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Help Stop Carbon Monoxide: A silent Killer

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 | 09:38am

Carbon monoxide awareness Day in Tennessee is September 16

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Fall is almost here, a time when many people attempt to reduce their home heating costs by using alternative heat sources and making their homes as air-tight as possible. Tennessee Department of Health officials say both tactics can increase the risk of deadly Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

“Every year we see emergency room visits and tragic deaths from carbon monoxide that can be prevented with greater awareness,” said Emergency Preparedness Director Paul Petersen.

“We encourage Tennesseans to keep themselves and their family safe by using caution and taking steps to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.”

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas found in combustion fumes produced by small gasoline engines, stoves, generators, lanterns and gas ranges, or by burning charcoal or wood in a fireplace. Carbon monoxide from these sources can build up in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces, and people and animals in these spaces can be poisoned and can die from breathing the gas.

The first symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can include headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion and are often mistaken for common winter illnesses such as severe colds and flu. Over time, exposure to carbon monoxide can cause brain damage and death.

The best way to protect yourself and your family from carbon monoxide poisoning is to install a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home. These work very much like smoke detectors, giving a loud beep or other signal when carbon monoxide is detected. The inexpensive devices are available at most hardware stores.

Other ways to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning include:

•   Have your chimney inspected each year by a qualified person to make sure it is not blocked and that it ventilates properly.

•   Never use a gas range, cook top or oven to heat a home.

•    Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern or portable camping stove inside a home, tent or camper.

•    Never run a generator, pressure washer or any gasoline-powered engine inside a garage, basement, crawlspace or other enclosed structure, even if the doors and windows are open.

•    Never leave the engine running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.

For life-threatening carbon monoxide poisoning, call 911. For other questions about carbon monoxide poisoning, call the Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.

To learn more about carbon monoxide and preventing exposure in your home, visit the TDH Healthy Homes website at http://health.tn.gov/healthyhomes.

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. TDH has facilities in all 95 counties and provides direct services for more than one in five Tennesseans annually as well as indirect services for everyone in the state, including emergency response to health threats, licensure of health professionals, regulation of health care facilities and inspection of food service establishments.  Learn more about TDH services and programs at http://health.state.tn.us/.

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