Tips: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention

As Americans in many parts of the country gear up for colder weather, others brace for the peak of hurricane season. This means more families will begin using fuel-burning space heaters and portable generators that may release harmful carbon monoxide (CO) gas. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that each year, carbon monoxide poisoning sends more than 20,000 people to emergency rooms and claims nearly 400 lives nationwide.

Carbon monoxide is known as the silent killer -- it is odorless, tasteless, colorless and toxic. It can poison the body quickly in high concentrations, or slowly over long periods of time. Home appliances are primary CO sources and the CDC reports that 64 percent of all carbon monoxide poisonings occur at home.

"There have been several incidents where carbon monoxide victims have become confused and could not call for help so that's why it's important for CO detectors in homes to be connected to a monitoring center with trained professionals operating 24/7 who can contact rescuers," said Amy Kabcenell, ADT marketing manager.

To help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in homes, these tips are suggested:

  • Never use portable electric generators, charcoal grills, camp stoves, or other similar devices inside your home, basement, garage or in any confined area that can allow carbon monoxide to collect. Follow usage directions closely.
  • Have your chimney, fireplace, wood stoves and flues inspected before every heating season and cleaned if necessary.
  • Turn off space heaters before leaving a room or going to sleep and supervise children and pets at all times when a portable space heater is in use.
  • Never run your car engine for more than a few moments in a garage or other enclosed area, even if the door to the outside is open. Fumes can build up very quickly and can spread to the living area of your home.
  • Look for clues that home appliances may be malfunctioning or emitting toxic gas. Common indicators to look for include: decreased hot water supply, soot on appliances and vents, increased moisture inside windows and furnaces unable to heat properly.
  • Install at least one carbon monoxide detector, connected to a monitoring center that operates 24/7, on every level of your home and near sleeping areas. Constant monitoring helps keep you safe from poisonous CO gas that can cause fatigue, dizziness, unconsciousness and possibly death if undetected.

"The silent killer can be stopped if people become more aware of the potential dangers in their homes and take the proper precautions," Kabcenell said.

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