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As the temperatures turn colder, the heating systems turn on. Crisp, cool air has the community reaching for their thermostats to make their homes comfortable against the cold of the night. While heating systems such as water heaters, gas furnaces, fireplaces, coal or wood-burning appliances, and many others can make a home more comfortable, they can also put off carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is responsible for carbon monoxide poisoning if allowed to build up within the body.

Emergency room medical provider Rochelle Herrada, APRN, stated, “When breathing in carbon monoxide the body transports this substance throughout the body and neglects to transport necessary oxygen. This leads to lack of oxygen supply to the cells of the body which can lead to tissue damage or death.”

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are subtle but may include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Confusion

If you or someone else is suspected to be suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning the following steps should be taken immediately:

  • Get into fresh air immediately
  • Call 911 or emergency help if you or someone else is developing signs or symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Seek medical evaluation in the nearest emergency room

Avoidance of carbon monoxide is the only way to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Heating systems are a common commodity in modern homes. However, there are certain steps to make sure these systems are safe to use.

Safety tips:

  • Install carbon monoxide detectors in your home
  • Check or replace the batteries in all carbon monoxide detectors every 6 months
  • Have your heating systems serviced by a qualified technician every year to ensure they are in good working order

Don’t let carbon monoxide poisoning take you by surprise. Take steps to protect you and your loved ones from this stealthy toxin during this cold season.