Protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning

With even more colder weather on the way, people will do whatever it takes to stay warm.  Many often even try to save money by not raising their thermostat and wearing extra clothes or trying to warm the home in other ways, with space heaters, and fireplaces, for example.  I thought now is as good of a time as any to let you know how to protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning.

First of all, make sure you own a carbon monoxide detector that’s been approved by Underwriters Laboratories.  In fact, it’s an Illinois law that all bedrooms must have a working carbon monoxide detector within 15 feet.  And even though you have the detector, don’t rely on it only.  Here’s some tips on what to avoid to help prevent poisoning.

1. Do not attempt to heat up your home by turning on your gas oven.  Not even for a minute.

2. Don’t sleep in a room with an unvented gas or kerosene space heater.

3. Don’t let your car idle in the garage, even if the door remains open.  It takes just a short amount of time for the fumes to build in the garage and in your home from turning on your car.

4. Don’t use a charcoal grill indoors, even in a fireplace.

5. Don’t use gas-powered equipment (chainsaw, trimmers, lawn mowers, etc.) in an enclosed space, or allow them to remain on in a garage when not in use.

If you do suspect that you or a family member may have been poisoned, get fresh air immediately and to a hospital right away.  Symptoms can develop fast and it’s easy to lose consciousness before you even suspect anything.  Other things to look for include nausea, severe headaches, and shortness of breath.

If your alarm does go off, get everyone out of the house.  If anyone is complaining of symptoms, get them to a hospital immediately and let them know you believe they might have been exposed to carbon monoxide.  Turn off all gas-powered appliances and ventilate the home with fresh air.

More information can be found on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Web site.  I can be reached on my Web site.

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