Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide poisoning is a silent, odorless, invisible killer. More than 400 Americans a year die from it, and more than 20,000 Americans will visit the emergency room due to it.
One danger of carbon monoxide is it is difficult to recognize, because the symptoms are similar to the symptoms you might suffer from the common cold or flu. These include:
- Shortness of breath
- Feelings of confusion
Carbon monoxide is especially dangerous for infants, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with ailments such as emphysema, asthma or heart disease.
Here are a few things you can do to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Install carbon monoxide detectors at every level of your house and outside every sleeping area. Test the alarms once a month. It is possible for you to connect the alarms together, so if one detects trouble they all go off. You can now even get wireless detectors that connect to your WiFi so you can be made aware of a problem when you are not at home. Some also connect with your smoke alarms.
- Have annual preventative maintenance performed on all gas-fired equipment. These include your heating system, water heater, chimney (if you have a fireplace) and any other fuel-burning appliances such as gas stoves, cook tops and clothes driers.
- Make sure the flue is open when you use your fireplace.
- If you have an emergency generator (and given the frequency of power outages in Chicago’s North Shore, we suggest you do), put it outside the house at least 20 feet from windows or doors. Do not put it in your garage or basement.
- Only use charcoal grills and camp stoves outside.
- Only use space heaters when someone is awake and ensure there is airflow in and out of the room.
- Do not use a gas oven or cook top for heat. But do make sure they are properly vented.
- Do not leave a vehicle running in your garage, even with the garage door open.
Finally, if you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, leave your house immediately and call the fire department. If you are experiencing symptoms, go to the emergency room.
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