How can carbon monoxide poisoning be prevented?

If you suspect a CO buildup or you’re experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, exit the area immediately and seek fresh air. You can take preventive steps to help safeguard your health:

Do a yearly inspection: At the beginning of each heating season, hire a trained professional to inspect your fuel-burning appliances, including:

  • Oil and gas furnaces.
  • Gas water heaters.
  • Gas ranges and ovens.
  • Gas dryers.
  • Gas or kerosene space heaters.
  • Fireplaces.
  • Wood stoves.
  • Flues and chimneys (check for blockages and cracking).

Use appliances safely: In addition to a yearly inspection, make sure to:

  • Choose appliances that vent fumes to the outside. They should be properly installed and maintained.
  • Buy gas equipment that carries the seal of a national testing agency.
  • Follow instructions for any fuel-burning appliance.
  • Use the right fuel for any unvented gas or kerosene space heaters. Open the doors and crack a window in the rest of the home.
  • Call an expert to inspect your gas refrigerator if you smell an odor.
  • Never use a gas oven or clothes dryer as a heating source.
  • Never sleep in a room with an unvented kerosene or gas space heater.

Install a carbon monoxide detector: Install a battery-operated (or battery backup) CO detector in your home. You should:

  • Test the CO detector when you change the clocks twice a year to make sure it’s still in good working condition. Replace it every five years.
  • Place the detector in a place where you will hear it if it alarms.

How else can I keep myself and my family safe from CO poisoning?

To lower your risk of CO poisoning, don’t:

  • Idle a car or truck inside a garage, even if the garage door is open. (Fumes build up quickly and can even seep into your home if it’s attached to the garage.)
  • Use a charcoal grill indoors.
  • Use small, gasoline-powered engines in enclosed spaces. These include lawn mowers, power washers, weed trimmers, snow blowers, chainsaws or generators.

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