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Take steps to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning

When temperatures drop during the winter months, the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning increases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year approximately 50,000 people visit emergency rooms in the U.S. due to accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.

With colder weather and snow in the forecast for the Seattle area , now is the time to make sure that you are taking precautions to prevent CO poisoning. The good news is that CO poisoning is preventable.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that can cause severe illness or death. CO is found in all fires, as well as fumes produced by charcoal or gas. It is produced by cars and trucks, small gasoline engines, stoves, lanterns, burning charcoal and wood, and gas ranges and heating systems.

Here are ways to prevent CO poisoning:

  • Do not use items that produce CO inside your home or garage or outside an open window.
  • Never use gas ovens to heat your home, even for a short time.
  • If you use a fireplace or wood stove, make sure that chimneys and flues are in good condition and are not blocked.
  • Never idle a car in a garage, even when the garage door is open.
  • Keep vents and flues free of debris. Debris can block ventilation lines.
  • Make sure you have CO alarms on every level of your home and outside of the bedrooms. Replace batteries yearly to ensure your CO alarm will work if needed.

If the CO alarm sounds, turn off any heating appliance and open windows to get fresh air. Call 911 if you experience CO poisoning symptoms such as dizziness, vomiting or headaches, and move to fresh air immediately. If you suspect an appliance is the source, call a qualified technician to fix the problem before restarting the appliance.