Carbon Monoxide - The "Senseless" Killer

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas that is produced by the incomplete burning of solid, liquid, and gaseous fuels.  Appliances fueled with natural gas, liquefied petroleum (LP gas), oil, kerosene, coal, or wood may produce CO.  Running cars and burning charcoal produces CO.Every year, nearly 300 people in the United States die in their homes from this toxic gas. Additionally several thousand people go to hospital emergency rooms for treatment for CO poisoning.  The main causes are: CO produced by fuel-burning appliances (furnaces, ranges, water heaters, room heaters) CO produced while burning charcoal inside a home, garage, vehicle or tent and CO produced by cars left running in attached garages.  The initial symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu (but without the fever) causing many people to be misdiagnosed.  Symptoms include:Headache Fatigue Shortness of breath Nausea Dizziness Steps to avoid the threat of CO poisoning:Make sure appliances are installed according to manufacturer's instructions and local building codes.  Have the heating system (including chimneys and vents) inspected and serviced annually.  Install a CO detector/alarm in the hallway near every separate sleeping area of the home.  Never burn charcoal or use portable fuel-burning camping equipment inside a home, garage, vehicle, or tent.Never leave a car running in an attached garage, even with the garage door open.Never service fuel-burning appliances without proper knowledge, skills, and tools.Never use gas appliances such as ranges, ovens, or clothes dryers for heating your home.Never operate unvented fuel-burning appliances in any room with closed doors or windows or in any room where people are sleeping.Do not use gasoline-powered tools and engines indoors.  If use is unavoidable, ensure that adequate ventilation is available and whenever possible place the engine unit to exhaust outdoors.Steps to take if you think you are experiencing any of the symptoms of CO poisoning: Get fresh air immediately. Open windows and doors for more ventilation, turn off any combustion appliances, and leave the house. Call your fire department and report your symptoms.  Contact a doctor immediately for a proper diagnosis.     Before turning your fuel-burning appliances back on, make sure a qualified serviceperson checks them for malfunction. Follow these easy stepsyou could lose consciousness and die if you do nothing.   Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

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