The National Safety Council reports that more than 1,000 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning.

"Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that is given off when you burn something," Ed McDaniel, Occupational Health Specialist at Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services, stated on the county's Web site. "An example of a potential CO problem is a gas appliance with a yellow flame, rather than one that is primarily blue. However, it is important to realize that more CO is released when something is smoldering than when it produces a flame."

To be safe, the Consumer Product Safety Council recommends that people install a carbon monoxide detector near bedrooms and choose a model that meets Underwriters Laboratories (UL) standard 2034.

The detectors measure both high CO concentrations over short periods of time and low CO concentration over long periods of time.

Steps To Reduce Exposure:

  • Keep gas appliance properly adjusted.
  • Consider purchasing a vented space heater when replacing an unvented one.
  • Use proper fuel in kerosene space heaters.
  • Install and use an exhaust fan vented to outdoors over gas stoves.
  • Open flues when fireplaces are in use.
  • Choose properly sized wood stoves that are certified to meet EPA emission standards.
  • Make certain that doors on all wood stoves fit tightly.
  • Have a trained profession inspect, clean and tune-up central heating system annually. Repair any leaks promptly.
  • Do not idle the car inside the garage.

Signs You May Have CO Poisoning:

  • Your lips and fingernails may turn bright red.
  • Inhaling small amounts can cause low energy and increased chest pains in people with chronic heart disease.
  • Healthy people may have headaches, dizziness, nausea, weakness and confusion when breathing higher amounts.
  • A feeling of extreme sleepiness and tiredness.
  • At very high levels, it can cause loss of consciousness and eventually death.

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