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More than 150 Americans die each year from an invisible intruder that can creep into homes and steal lives away: carbon monoxide.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas. If inhaled, it can prove deadly to people or pets within minutes. CO poisoning is hard to detect and its flu-like symptoms - headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, sleepiness and confusion - can easily be mistaken for other illnesses.Carbon monoxide poisoning can occur suddenly or over a long period of time. Breathing low levels of carbon monoxide over a long period can cause severe heart problems and brain damage.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, deaths are typically associated with fumes coming from faulty or improperly-used fuel-burning appliances, including generators, furnaces, stoves, water heaters and fireplaces.

If you suspect CO poisoning, get outside to fresh air immediately, and then call 911.

To prevent CO poisoning:

  • Have home heating systems (including chimneys and vents) inspected and serviced annually by a trained service technician.
  • Never use portable generators inside homes or garages, even if doors and windows are open.
  • Never use a grill to cook inside your home or garage.
  • Never use a gas range or oven for heating.
  • Open the fireplace damper before lighting a fire and keep it open until ashes are cool.
  • Install battery-operated CO alarms outside each separate sleeping area
Posted 3:08 PM  View Comments

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