Health Tip: Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Colorless, odorless gas causes 500 deaths a year in U.S.

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(HealthDayNews) -- Each year, more than 500 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning, and more than 2,000 commit suicide by inhaling the colorless, odorless gas, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Carbon monoxide is in combustion exhaust produced by cars and trucks, small gasoline engines, stoves, lanterns, burning charcoal and wood, and gas ranges and heating systems. Carbon monoxide from these sources can build up in enclosed or semi-enclosed spaces. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting and confusion. High levels of carbon monoxide can cause loss of consciousness and death.

Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning by making sure that:

  • All fuel-burning appliances are properly installed, maintained and operated;
  • Furnaces, water heaters and gas dryers are inspected annually by a qualified service technician;
  • Fireplace chimneys and flues are checked and cleaned every year;
  • Unvented fuel-burning space heaters are used only while someone is awake to monitor them;
  • Automobile exhaust systems are inspected regularly for defects.

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