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Winter CO Safety Reminders

Posted: January 16, 2018

Carbon monoxide sign

The year 2018 has started with a bang here in the North Carolina, with Old Man Winter unleashing record-setting cold throughout the region.

Most of us hunkered down indoors through the bitter stretch, relying on our home heating systems to keep us safe and protected. But we shouldn’t take that safety for granted: when we spend all those hours indoors with our furnace cranking out BTUs, we also expose ourselves to risks from carbon monoxide poisoning.

More than 20,000 people visit emergency rooms with symptoms of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning each year – and nearly 40 percent of those visits come in the winter, when our heating systems are running at full tilt.

The good news is the dangers of CO poisoning are preventable with a little education and some diligence. To stay safe, you’ll need to know some CO basics: how to spot the signs of poisoning, how to deal with its symptoms, and how to prevent CO buildup from occurring in the first place.

Carbon monoxide basics

Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms

Five ways to prevent CO dangers in your home

Carbon monoxide poisoning is preventable with some sensible preparation and awareness. Here are five of the best ways to prevent CO dangers in your home:

  1. Get your heating equipment serviced every year. An expert will spot issues before they pose risks to your family.
  2. Install a CO detector on every floor of your home. Replace batteries once a year and replace the detector itself every five years.
  3. Keep outdoor exhaust vents clear. Blocked vents can cause a dangerous buildup inside your home. Be sure to clear exhaust vents, flues, and other lines after all storms.
  4. Keep an eye on your pets. If your pet seems sick or unusually slow to awaken, take him or her outside, check your CO detectors, and open windows.
  5. Never start a vehicle indoors. Start your car with the garage door open, and never run it for more than a few minutes.