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Carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. More than 20,000 people visit the emergency room and nearly 500 are killed each year from carbon monoxide poisoning.
To protect your family from carbon monoxide, follow these simple safety tips:
• Make sure you have working CO detectors. All homes and duplexes in Wisconsin are required to have CO detectors on every level including the basement, but not the attic or storage areas.
• Have your furnace or wood-burning stove inspected annually to make sure it is structurally and functionally sound and vent s properly to the outside of your home.
• Never run a gasoline or propane heater or a grill (gas or charcoal) inside your home or an unventilated garage. Any heating system that burns fuel will produce carbon monoxide. Use a battery-powered detector where you have fuel burning devices but no electric outlets, such as in tents, cabins, RVs, and boats with enclosed cabins.
• Never run a car in an enclosed space. If a vehicle is running, you must have a door open to the outside.
• Generators should be run a safe distance from the home. Never run a generator in the home or garage, or right next to windows or doors.
Breathing carbon monoxide displaces the oxygen in the blood and can cause death within minutes at high levels. Symptoms of overexposure to carbon monoxide are often mistaken for the flu and include headaches, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath/chest pain, nausea/vomiting, and confusion. If you experience any of these symptoms, or your carbon monoxide detector sounds an alarm, head outside immediately for fresh air and call 911.
For more information on carbon monoxide poisoning, visit: http://dhs.wisconsin.gov/eh/Air/fs/CO.htm.