Be aware of CO poisoning this winter

As we head into the cold winter months, it’s a good time to remind yourself of the odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas that can harm or even kill you.  Carbon Monoxide or “CO” is produced by fumes from vehicles, gas ranges, or furnaces to name a few.  The fumes will build up indoors and can poison people and animals who breathe it in.

If you are heating your home with natural gas, oil, or propane, they are designed to vent to the outside.  If you have any blockages, leaks, or cracks, this could also cause CO to leak into your home, outbuilding, or workplace where these heating sources are being used.

High levels of CO can lead to incapacitation or death without the victim even being aware that they are being poisoned.

You can take a few simple steps to prevent CO poisoning.  The easiest way to start with is to install a CO detector.  Co detectors can range from $20 to over $100 depending on the brand and if they are hard-wired, battery-operated, or a plug-in model. 

But a CO detector will only warn you that you have a problem.  You need to prevent the issues by:

  • Having fuel-burning appliances professionally inspected annually.
  • Get any chimneys and flues that use gas inspected regularly for cracks, leaks, or blockages.

If you believe you or someone may have carbon monoxide poisoning, get into fresh air quickly as possible, and seek emergency medical attention.

Signs and symptoms can include weakness, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, and a headache.

You can develop long-term or permanent complications from CO such as brain and heart damage.

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