Last week, we talked about Christmas tree safety tips. This week, we want to talk about things that you can do to help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning from occurring in your home. Because of the many deaths that occur each year due to carbon monoxide poisoning, this is a very important topic that should be discussed.

How can I tell if my family and I are at risk for CO poisoning?

First, the most important thing you can do is make sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors installed on each level of your home. As with smoke detectors, we recommend one in each room. Because even medium exposure to carbon monoxide can cause such great disorientation in a person – to the point where they cannot save themselves, it is of vital importance to have carbon monoxide detectors to alert you if and when CO levels were to begin to rise in your home. Make sure you change the batteries in your CO detectors at least twice a year. Obviously, they will do you no good if the batteries die.

The next thing you should do is have a trained and experienced professional inspect, clean, and tune-up your central heating system once a year. This includes furnaces, flues, and chimneys. Any leaks that are found should be repaired immediately.

The EPA has offered a list of other essential tips to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:

• Keep gas appliances properly adjusted.
• Consider purchasing a vented space heater when replacing an unvented one.
• Use proper fuel in kerosene space heaters.
• Install and use an exhaust fan vented to outdoors over gas stoves.
• Open flues when fireplaces are in use.
• Choose properly sized wood stoves that are certified to meet EPA emission standards. Make certain that doors on all wood stoves fit tightly.
• Do not leave the car running inside a garage or any other enclosed or partially enclosed space.

Other tips from the CDC include:

• Never use a gas range or oven to heat a home.
• Never run a motor vehicle, generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine outside an open window, door, or vent where exhaust can vent into an enclosed area.
• Never run a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine inside a basement, garage, or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open, unless the equipment is professionally installed and vented. Keep vents and flues free of debris, especially if winds are high. Flying debris can block ventilation lines.
• Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside a home, tent, or camper.

In most cases, carbon monoxide poisoning is preventable. Take all the steps you can to protect your family from a terrible tragedy. Install CO detectors and follow these valuable tips provided to you by the CDC and EPA.

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