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Carbon monoxide (CO) is a silent killer. Each year, we hear heartbreaking stories about this odorless, colorless and highly toxic gas wiping out entire families as it seeps silently into homes. Luckily, there are some very simple ways we can prevent a CO tragedy from ever happening.
Test appliances. One of the most common ways CO is released into the atmosphere is from malfunctioning fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, ranges, water heaters and room heaters. Have your heating system inspected regularly, especially prior to the heat first kicking on in colder seasons.
Buy a detector. They are cheap and should be installed in all homes and apartments. These simple devices can save your life. If the detector goes off, get people and pets out immediately; then call the gas company or fire department from a neighbor’s house or cell phone.
Stay vented. Ensure that all appliance vents and chimneys are not blocked. This is especially important during home renovations where tarps may temporarily cover these venting systems, or in climates where heavy snowfall can lead to blockage.
De-foil. Never cover the bottom of natural gas or propane ovens with aluminum foil. This can block air flow and create a buildup of CO since the burning of gas is incomplete.
Grills go outside. Do not use charcoal or hibachi grills to cook indoors or to heat living areas-ever. Likewise, using any portable fuel-burning equipment inside your home, garage or car is a no-no. That goes for generators and gas engine-powered tools, too. CO can build up quickly with nowhere to go.
Close the door. While it may seem like a smart quick fix, never attempt to heat your home temporarily by leaving a still-hot oven or clothes dryer door open.
Cut the engine. Never warm your car or leave the engine running inside an enclosed space like a garage-even for a few seconds.
Following these simple steps can keep you and your family safe from the quietest killer around: carbon monoxide.