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Known as the “silent killer,” carbon monoxide (CO) causes at least 15,000 Americans to seek emergency medical treatment each year, as officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have noted.

How to reduce your risks of CO poisoning this winter

While CO poisoning can happen anywhere and at any time, it is far more likely to occur in the months of December and January – the months when more people are using fuel-burning appliances at home to stay warm.

This fact has led the CDC to deem CO as the “winter killer.” And now officials are working to spread the word about what people can do to minimize their risks of CO poisoning this winter and beyond.

How to Reduce Your Risk of CO Poisoning: Tips from the CDC

If you live in a colder area and/or will be relying on fuel-burning appliances to stay warm this winter, here are some important tips to keep in mind in order to minimize the risk of CO poisoning:

  • Before running the heating systems in your home for the first time (before each winter season), call a qualified technician to check out these systems and ensure they are working properly.
  • Check the batteries in your home’s carbon monoxide detectors. The CDC recommends getting in the habit of doing this check when adjusting your clocks for daylight-saving time. If you don’t have CO detectors at home, make it a priority to install some in each bedroom and on each level of your home this winter.
  • If you need to use a generator, a charcoal grill or any other oil- or gas-burning appliance, keep these appliances outside of your home, away from the home’s windows.
  • Don’t keep motor vehicles running in garages, regardless of whether the garage door may be open.
  • Never use a gas oven to heat a home, and don’t burn anything in a stove or fireplace that is not vented to the outside.
  • Know the symptoms of CO poisoning and seek immediate medical attention if you start experiencing them.

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