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Carbon Monoxide
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Carbon Monoxide Alarms: Is your home protected?

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas released when any carbon fuel—that is, gas, propane, oil, wood, charcoal, is inefficiently burned and the resulting chemical is released into the air. Breathing this gas results in death at high exposure and in a multitude of neurological and physical ailments at low exposures. Continuous low dose exposure can result in long term symptoms which can appear weeks or months after the exposure; symptoms include memory loss, confusion, seizures, incontinence, and behavioral changes. Death from carbon monoxide poisoning occurs in about 1500 Americans per year; this is all the more tragic because it is entirely preventable.

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People are at increased risk for CO poisoning during the winter months because they spend more time indoors keeping warm in front of fire places, space heaters, and gas or oil furnaces. During periods of high unemployment, exposure to CO is also increased as people are home or in closed in spaces when they would ordinarily be at work. Danger is even higher among the poor who often use older kerosene space heaters to heat one room at a time in an attempt to cut down on the cost of heating an entire house.

Nor is the danger limited to the home. CO poisoning occurs in cars, workshops where gasoline or propane fired tools are in use, and even in older motels where older style space heaters are the primary source of heat for the individual units. Wherever CO exposure is a possibility, a carbon monoxide detector could and should be used to prevent the disastrous effects of this silent killer.

Protect your love ones from CO Poisoning. A GE security system that detects the level of CO in your home is a simple and inexpensive way of protecting your family from CO poisoning. Systems are available that will signal both you and the local authorities if a problem is detected.  You can also purchase portable CO detectors for use in a motel room, workshop, or other enclosed space. Like your smoke detector, it is important to test the batteries in your CO detector periodically.

A Word of Caution: Although carbon monoxide detectors are relatively new on the market, some states have already begun requiring installation of a CO detection system along with the smoke detectors. However, consumer protection agencies warn consumers that even with the installation of the detection systems, you should still practice responsible use of petroleum based equipment. This includes maintaining good ventilation whenever using a fire place or space heater, having the exhaust stack on your oil or gas furnace checked and cleaned every year, and using common sense with appliances like charcoal grills and gasoline or kerosene fired tools. If you think you might be experiencing the symptoms of CO poisoning, don’t ignore them even if the CO alarm has not triggered. Get fresh air immediately and tell a physician as CO poisoning can be detected by a blood test.

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