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It's Cold Outside but Is It Safe Inside?

Understanding the risks of using CO-emitting fuels and devices helps to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning and related fire hazards.
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    January 16, 2010 /24-7PressRelease/ -- It's Cold Outside but Is It Safe Inside?

Article provided by Williams, Walsh, and O'Connor, LLC
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Winter storms can cause power outages and other emergency situations. To cope with chilly weather, when the power goes out, people often turn to alternative energy sources. Consider the homeowner who uses a gas stove to heat a kitchen or runs a generator within an enclosed and attached garage. While these backup devices may resolve immediate heating problems, they can also create new ones. Understanding the risks of using CO-emitting fuels and devices helps to prevent carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and related fire hazards.

Focus on Fuels

Gasoline, propane, kerosene, natural gas, oil, charcoal and wood are all CO-emitting fuels. Devices that run on these fuels produce some level of CO gas during and following their use. Examples of such devices are generators, stoves, fireplaces, grills, furnaces, water heaters, space heaters, power tools and vehicles. CO gas may be released even when a device is turned off, so knowing how to detect it and its effects is important.

Raise Awareness

Public service announcements often describe CO gas as a silent killer. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), this toxic gas is not only silent, but also tasteless, odorless and colorless. Babies, the elderly, and people with heart and lung problems are most vulnerable to the effects of CO. Depending on the length of exposure and CO concentration, symptoms vary. For low to moderate CO concentrations, major symptoms of gas poisoning range from headaches and dizziness to nausea, fatigue and fainting. At higher levels, these symptoms could result in a coma, brain damage or even death.

Lower Exposure

There are ways to decrease the presence of detectable levels of CO gas in the home. Gas appliances should be properly maintained and checked for leaks regularly. Never run vehicles and gas-powered grills, generators or other tools within enclosed spaces. Keep space heaters away from flammable materials and turned off when unattended. Invest in both smoke and CO detectors. Install these in every bedroom of a house, and replace the batteries regularly to help prevent accidents and injuries that can occur from increased levels of CO gas. If you or a loved one develops symptoms of CO poisoning, open windows or leave the house and call an emergency or appliance repair professional.

Safe and Healthy Homes

To escape extreme scenarios, such as the cold of a winter storm, people need dependable shelter. Minimizing CO exposure is one way to help ensure safe and healthy homes. Exposure to low levels of CO on a daily basis is not typically harmful to people, but CO can build up fast and lead to explosions or fires if ignited. Monitoring and managing its presence is essential. If you have been injured by harmful exposure to high levels of CO from an appliance, space heater or other device in your home, contact an experienced personal injury attorney near you.

Article provided by Williams, Walsh, and O'Connor, LLC
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