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Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas, which is a by-product of burning fuels. Many of us are already aware that running cars produce CO, but appliances such as furnaces, ranges, water heaters, and room heaters that are fueled with natural gas, oil, kerosene, coal/charcoal, or wood may also produce CO.
Unfortunately, many of the initial symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu but without the fever, and include:
- Shortness of breath
If you think you have been exposed to CO and are experiencing any of the above symptoms, contact your doctor. A simple blood test can be performed to verify the presence of CO in the blood.
To reduce your risk of exposure install a CO detector/alarm near every separate sleeping area of the home, and make sure furniture or draperies do not cover them up.
Other tips include:
- Make sure appliances are professionally installed and serviced, and that heating systems are inspected and serviced annually.
- Never use a fuel-burning appliance unless it is properly vented.
- Avoid using gasoline-powered tools and engines indoors.
- Never use gas appliances such as ranges, ovens, or clothes dryers to heat your home.
For more information, go to http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/466.html or http://www.qualifiedhardware.com/carbon-monoxide.html.
Page last modified June 17, 2011