With the cooler weather right around the corner, it's important to review carbon monoxide (CO) safety tips so you are prepared this fall and winter. The CDC reports that this "silent killer" sends 20,000 people to the emergency room, hospitalizes 4,000 and kills 400 every year. CO is a colorless and odorless gas that replaces oxygen in your bloodstream leading to poisoning and a variety of symptoms, including death. CO is produced by fuel burning engines, fireplaces, gas ranges, furnaces and generators. When the gas builds up in closed spaces, it can lead to poisoning of animals and people.
- Anyone is at risk. However, infants, the elderly, those with breathing issues and those with anemia are at the greatest risk for severe reactions to CO.
- Fall and winter are the prime time for CO poisonings due to use of fireplaces and furnaces.
- Prevent poisonings with a CO detector. Test it regularly and always keep batteries fresh.
- Have the furnace, hot water heater, fireplace and any coal or gas-burning appliances inspected before use each fall.
- Have the chimney checked and cleaned yearly and the fireplace damper checked.
- Never use a gas oven to heat your home.
- Never run a car in the garage, even with the garage door open.
- Never use a generator indoors or within 20 feet of your home. Doing so could allow dangerous CO to build up in your home.