Silent but Deadly: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon Monoxide poisoning kills 400 Americans every year and send more than 20,000 people to the hospital every year. The gas is odorless, so it makes it difficult to know if you have a leak if proper precautions are not taken.

Carbon Monoxide poisoning takes place when a fuel burning engine, like a car or furnace, emits a gas known as Carbon Monoxide. If the CO (Carbon Monoxide) is not vented properly, it builds up in the space, creating a toxic air space. Young children, elderly individuals and those with breathing or heart conditions are especially vulnerable.

The symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning often feel like the flu. Things like headache, dizziness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain and confusion are all signs of CO poisoning. If you notice these symptoms and think it may be CO poisoning get to fresh air immediately, get everyone out of the house/building and call 911.

There are several steps you can take to help prevent a build up of carbon monoxide and alert you to any possible exposure. First, never leave your car running in a closed garage. If you want to warm your car up in your garage in the morning, always open the big garage door to allow the fumes to escape the room. If you have a gas stove or oven, only use it as directed and NEVER use it for heating purposes. Any sort of heater should be properly ventilated, even fireplaces. It is best to have all heating/cooling systems inspected and maintained yearly.

Finally, you can install a CO detector. Similar to a smoke detector, this simple battery operated detector will make a sound if it find CO in the air. These are available at a variety of retailers for about $10. Make sure and replace these batteries like you do your smoke detectors.

Hopefully this is something you and your family never have to worry about and never experience. Proper precautions can help make sure that that is the case, just a few extra seconds here and there and you can do your best to make sure your family breaths the right air.

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