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Take Precautions this Season to Prevent Risk of CO Poisoning

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Always err on the side of caution with fuel-burning devices that live in the home.

We are now in the chilliest season of the year. Homes across the region are using heaters and furnaces for warmth. While turning up the heat may bring us comfort, it is important to be wary that some heating devices might also bring us danger.

Heaters and furnaces emit carbon monoxide (CO), which is a leading cause of poison deaths. “Carbon monoxide poisoning results in hundreds of deaths and thousands of illnesses every year,” said Norma Barton, a certified specialist in poison information at the Ruth A. Lawrence Poison and Drug Information Center. “It is especially dangerous because it has no color, odor, or taste. What’s more, CO-producing devices live in our homes. All fuel-burning devices may emit CO, and should be treated as potentially dangerous.”These CO-making devices include gas furnaces, gas water heaters, gas stoves, gas ovens, kerosene space heaters, wood and gas fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, power generators and car engines.

There are a lot of precautionary measures that families can take to prevent CO poisoning in their homes:

The Poison Control Center consists of poison experts with advice for all kinds of poison-related emergencies. However, many people do not know that the center also offers advice for non-emergencies. Prevention is key, so Barton asks that people call with any questions concerning chemicals or medicine, whether they are worried about a side-effect from your medications or if the dog swallowed something he shouldn’t have.

For more information, contact a local poison expert by calling Poison Help 1-800-222-1222 or going to for poison prevention tips.

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