This season tends to be a prime time for carbon monoxide poisoning, as the weather turns cooler and people turn on their heating systems.
Each year, more than 400 people in the U.S. die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 20,000 visit the emergency room, and more than 4,000 others are hospitalized.
It's important to take extra precautions to avoid becoming a statistic of this “silent killer,” an odorless and colorless gas that often goes undetected.
The National Safety Council recommends installing a battery-operated or battery backup carbon monoxide detector in the hallway near each separate sleeping area in your home. Check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall and replace the detector every five years.
The CDC also offers the following tips:
- Have your furnace, water heater and any other gas or coal-burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year
- Do not use portable flameless chemical heaters indoors
- Have your chimney checked and cleaned every year, and make sure your fireplace damper is open before lighting a fire and well after the fire is extinguished
- Never use a gas oven for heating your home
- Never use a generator inside your home, basement or garage or less than 20 feet from any window, door or vent; fatal levels of carbon monoxide can be produced in just minutes, even if doors and windows are open
- Never run a car in a garage that is attached to a house, even with the garage door open; always open the door to a detached garage to let in fresh air when you run a car inside