Protect Your Family From Invisible Household Poison

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Poison Prevention Week provides an opportunity for families to take steps to protect themselves from household poisons. Families, especially those with small children, are most often concerned about the toxins stored in medicine cabinets or locked away under the kitchen sink. But there is one life- threatening poison that may not come to mind-carbon monoxide (CO).

Often called the "Silent Killer," carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Colorless, odorless, and tasteless, it claims 500 lives and sends another 15,000 to the hospital every year.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly 89% of non-fire related CO poisonings occur in the home. A by-product of combustion, carbon monoxide can build up in the home when household fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, fireplaces, and generators aren't properly ventilated or maintained. In North Carolina, nearly half of all homes use some type of fuel-burning appliance, posing an even greater risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

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The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, nausea, and dizziness, and can often mimic the flu. To know if your family is being poisoned, install a carbon monoxide alarm in your home. It is the only safe way to detect the poisonous gas.

In fact, over the past several months, The North Carolina Child Fatality Taskforce has been researching and studying CO incidents in North Carolina and its impact on North Carolina families. According to the Carolina Poison Center, the number of reported incidents for children ages 19 and under spiked in 2007 to 101 verified CO poisonings -- the highest number in four years. There were 275 verified CO poisonings among adults in 2007 -- again the highest in four years.

Much like smoke alarm regulations in the past, CO legislation has become a growing public policy trend among many states and local governments. Fourteen states have already adopted laws that require some CO protections in family homes.

"Families should not wait for a law to be passed to help protect themselves from carbon monoxide," said Chris Rovenstine, VP of marketing for Kidde Residential and Commercial. "Make sure your fuel-burning appliances are inspected every year, and if you haven't done so already, install a carbon monoxide alarm on each level of the home and outside of sleeping areas to help keep your family safer."

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