Carbon monoxide is an inevitable byproduct of incomplete combustion and is found any place fuel burns. Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless. The hemoglobin in your blood has a markedly greater affinity for carbon monoxide than it does for oxygen. What this means, practically speaking, is that when exposed to carbon monoxide, your blood no longer transports oxygen efficiently. The resulting death is insidious and painless.

The key to avoiding carbon monoxide poisoning is adequate ventilation, even when it is cold. A properly designed and installed stove or fireplace vents this gas automatically, but great care must be exercised when using items such as camp stoves in enclosed spaces. Battery-powered carbon monoxide monitors are portable and operate independent of external power sources.

Prevent Carbon Monoxide Exposure

* Do have your heating system, water heater and any other gas-, oil- or coal-burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
* Do install a battery-operated or battery back-up carbon monoxide detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. If the detector sounds, leave your home immediately and call 911.
* Do seek prompt medical attention if you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning and are feeling dizzy, lightheaded or nauseous.
* Don’t use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove or other gasoline- or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement or garage or near a window.
* Don’t run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open.
* Don’t burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t vented.
* Don’t heat your house with a gas oven.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

To read more about staying safe this winter season, check out the Spring 2015 issue of SURVIVOR’S EDGE for house fire prevention and home heating tips. For more information and to purchase past issues, visit

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