Avoid Accidental Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

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During the winter months, cold rainy weather is a reality. During these miserable weather conditions, it is important to keep in mind the threat of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. The Monterey County Health Department would like to remind everyone that the best defense against carbon monoxide poisoning is prevention.

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous and odorless gas that does not irritate, but can kill a person in minutes. Carbon monoxide is produced whenever any fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood, or charcoal is burned.

"Carbon monoxide poisoning is preventable" says Dr. Hugh Stallworth, Health Officer for the Monterey County, "Generators, grills, camp stoves, or other gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal-burning devices should never be used inside a home, basement, garage, or camper - or even outside near an open window."

Follow these tips to avoid accidental injury or death from carbon monoxide:

  • Never burn charcoal inside homes, tents, campers, vans, trucks, garages, or mobile homes. Do not burn charcoal in the fireplace in your home.

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  • Do not warm up your vehicle by idling the engine inside an attached garage

  • Have your gas or oil burning furnace inspected for leaks and serviced by a professional each year

  • Hire a professional to inspect and service all chimneys and vents. A blocked vent (from soot or a birds nest, for example) can cause carbon monoxide to back up into the house

  • Avoid combustion "space heaters" unless there is an exhaust vent. Don't place a space heater within three feet of anything that may catch on fire, and never cover a space heater.

  • Install certified carbon monoxide warning devices in hallways outside bedrooms. These devices should not replace the other prevention steps.

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