Saturday, October 20 , 2018, 3:39 pm | Fair 85º

Emergency Preparedness 2018
Sponsored by Montecito Bank & Trust and Cottage Health

What You Need to Know to Reduce Your Risk of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

(Green Shoot Media photo)

Accidental carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning kills more than 400 people every year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The odorless, colorless gas can cause sudden illness and death if inhaled, so prevention is key to keeping you and your family safe.

A large number of the annual deaths caused by CO come during power outages after hurricanes or winter storms. People use alternative sources of fuel or electricity for heating, cooling and cooking inside their homes, which can catalyze a quick buildup of deadly CO gases.

Generators, grills, camp stoves and other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices should never be used inside a home, basement, garage or camper under any circumstances.

How to Recognize CO Poisoning

Exposure to CO can cause loss of consciousness and death, with the most common symptoms being headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion, according to the CDC.

People who are sleeping or who have been drinking alcohol are at an increased risk for CO-related deaths, because they can be poisoned before ever having symptoms.


Every home should have at least one working carbon monoxide detector. The detector’s batteries should be checked at least twice annually, at the same time smoke detector batteries are checked.

Detectors can be purchased for about $20 at your local hardware store, so expense should not be a factor in your decision to buy one. It could be a small price for a smart, high-return investment.

Other Tips from the CDC

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

» If conditions are too hot or too cold, seek shelter with friends or at a community shelter.

» If CO poisoning is suspected, consult a health-care professional right away.

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