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Bumping the Heat: How to Recognize and Prevent Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning

Monday, January 17, 2022 10:40 AM

By: Angelina Campanile

Turning on the furnace, powering up a space heater, and making a fire are three ways of producing warmth during the cold winter months. But, if overused and functioning incorrectly, they can also increase your risk of Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that is produced any time a fossil fuel, like gas, is burned. Fumes from furnaces, kerosene heaters, cars left running in the garage to warm up, and even burning wood can lead to CO buildup that can cause sudden illness and death.

Symptoms of CO exposure include headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting chest pain, and confusion.

You can protect yourself and your household by recognizing the symptoms of CO poisoning and how to prevent it. Here is some information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Tips to Prevent CO Poisoning:

  • Ensure your heating system, water heater and other gas, oil, or coal-burning appliances are updated and functioning correctly every year.
  • Install CO detectors throughout your home and check the batteries every six months.
  • Clean your vents to prevent ventilation blockage and CO buildup.

Do not leave the following powered on in an enclosed space like a garage, tent, home, or camper:

  • Motor vehicle
  • Generator
  • Charcoal grill
  • Portable camping stove
  • Pressure washer
  • Any gasoline-powered engine

If you believe you’ve been exposed to Carbon Monoxide, call 911 or a health care professional immediately.