Healthy Tip of the Week (HTW): January 31 - February 6

GHHEditor February 3rd

Be sure you know how to protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning.

When it gets colder outside, it's important to be safe while you're keeping yourself warm inside.

For instance, when heating your home, carbon monoxide, an odorless and colorless gas, can be deadly if it's released from a heating unit and can't escape your house or car. Gas central heating, space heaters, and water heaters are all leading sources of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide can also come from exhaust from a car parked in a closed garage.

Carbon monoxide poisoning comes from breathing in enough of the gas that it gets into the blood. The first signs of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to the flu, but without fever. These include dizzinessfatigueheadache, and nausea. If you have any of these symptoms--and if you feel better when you go outside, but the symptoms come back once you're back inside--you may have carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Carbon monoxide poisoning is very dangerous, but it can be prevented. Follow these tips to protect yourself:

  • Install at least one smoke alarm and one carbon monoxide alarm in your apartment. If you live in a house, put them on each level and near bedrooms. The alarm should meet the latest Underwriters Laboratories (UL) safety standard and comply with local regulations for placement in the home.
  • If you have a gas stove and oven, do not use it as the main source of heat in your home. Cooking in an oven or on the stove is a good way to warm up your home, but leaving the gas oven on for a long period of time just to heat the house can cause carbon monoxide to build up.
  • Never use a charcoal grill, barbecue grill, or portable gas camp stove indoors. Burning charcoal is only okay outdoors, where carbon monoxide can be released into the open air.
  • Pay attention to your appliances and vents for rust, stains, blockage, or debris. Also watch chimneys for visible soot or blockages. When in use, make sure appliances and chimneys vent properly to let gas escape from indoor areas.
  • Never leave your car on while you are clearing snow around it. If snow is blocking the exhaust pipe, carbon monoxide can build up in the car and harm anyone sitting inside.
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