Stories about: carbon monoxide safety

Winter safety goes beyond ice and cold

To the unprepared, New England winters can be dangerous. Sledding, skiing and skating are fun but risky, and it’s impossible to avoid slippery sidewalks or roads narrowed by huge snow banks.

But amidst all the warnings about ice and cold exposure, a potentially deadly winter safety hazard often gets over looked: carbon monoxide (CO) which enters our breathing air through many different sources like car exhaust, indoor charcoal grills, furnaces and other devices powered by fossil fuels. Often called the silent killer, CO is colorless, odorless and tasteless, making leaks and build-ups difficult to notice. Its a dangerous situation and leads to more than 200 deaths every year. Complicating its detection even more, the effects of CO poisoning are very similar to that of a flu, cold or infection. A ringing in the ears, headache, nausea, weakness and/or dizziness all could indicate that a person is being poisoned by carbon monoxide, but because these symptoms are often associated with less serious illnesses, many people who are overexposed to it mistakenly think they’re catching a seasonal bug. In many of these cases the affected person will lie down or rest to feel better, sometimes never waking up.

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