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Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that is found in the fumes of vehicles, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges or furnaces. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year more than 400 Americans die from accidental CO poisoning.

Co poisoning can cause flu-like symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, breathing difficulties, confusion and fatigue. Infants, the elderly, and those with heart or breathing problems are more susceptible to CO poisoning. If you are sleeping or drunk, it is possible to die before symptoms of CO poisoning occur.

Here are some tips to help prevent CO poisoning in your home:

  • Install a CO detector on each level of your home where it will wake you up if it alarms. Check the battery every 6 months and replace as needed. Your CO detector should be fully replaced every 5 years.
  • Make sure gas appliances are properly vented. Pipes should go up slightly as they head outdoors.
  • Never heat your home with your gas oven or range.
  • Have your chimney checked each year and clean frequently throughout the winter.
  • Schedule yearly maintenance for your heating system, water heater and other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances.

If your CO detector goes off, make sure all family members leave the house immediately and check for symptoms of CO poisoning. If any symptoms are found, medical attention is needed. If no signs of CO poisoning are found, turn off all gas appliances, open doors and windows to ventilate the home, and have appliances checked by a qualified technician.