Liz Crenshaw's Guide to Consumer Issues, Recalls and More

Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Your Home

Tips to keep your home and family safe

By Liz Crenshaw and Katie Roberts
|  Tuesday, Apr 24, 2012  |  Updated 3:58 PM EDT
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Prevent CO Poisoning in Your Home

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In response to the deadly carbon monoxide outbreak on Tuesday morning, Liz Crenshaw and the Consumer Product Safety Commission have some reminders on how to keep your home safe.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is known as a silent killer: an odorless, colorless gas that can be generated by any appliance that burns fossil fuel, including any appliance in your house that burns coal, wood, charcoal, gasoline, or propane.

Many furnaces, fireplaces, ranges, and water heaters produce carbon monoxide, but the gas is normally filtered out through a vent or chimney. Carbon monoxide becomes a problem when the toxins from the gas don’t escape your home, and is especially deadly because it can’t be detected by sight or smell, so people don’t know they’re being exposed.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure include headache, fatigue, nausea, and dizziness, so you should immediately get out of the house and into fresh air if you or a family member have any of these symptoms.

The best way to protect yourself against carbon monoxide poisoning is, of course, to prevent it. One of your best forms of protection is to get a carbon monoxide detector. Install it the same way you'd install a smoke detector, and you can buy CO dectectors at hardware stores. Have your heating system professionally inspected every year, and also get your chimneys checked for any blockages or other problems. Also, never operate a portable generator or any other gasoline engine-powered tool either or near a house or garage.

For more information about carbon monoxide poisoning, visit the CPSC's website.

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