Carbon Monoxide Threat Grows in Cold Weather

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With the return of chilly temperatures, health officials remind people to be aware of carbon monoxide (CO) dangers, and check their compliance with the state law requiring carbon monoxide detectors in residences.

State law requires all one and two-family dwellings to have carbon monoxide alarms. Newly constructed homes require CO detectors that are directly wired to the home’s electrical service and existing homes may use battery-powered, stand-alone detectors. State law also includes a similar requirement for multi-family dwellings.

Detectors work like smoke alarms to alert you to dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide. Battery powered portable CO detectors are also available for use away from home. Health officials recommend installing CO detectors on every level of your home and near sleeping areas. If your CO detector sounds an alarm, you should immediately move to fresh air and call 9-1-1.

CO is a colorless, odorless gas that can be emitted from poorly functioning or unvented furnaces or other gas powered home appliances. Outdoor appliances such as portable generators, heaters, and stoves, can also create dangerous levels of CO in cabins, campers, tents, and hunting and fishing shacks.

Symptoms of CO poisoning are flu-like and include headache, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea and mental confusion. High levels of exposure may lead to more serious health problems, including loss of consciousness and death.