Carbon monoxide poisoning is a common safety hazard in the winter. It can happen quickly without much warning, but thankfully it is easy to prevent.

Odds are, you have a carbon monoxide detector somewhere in your house. We even recommend getting one for each floor. But, there are some things that may seem harmless that are actually really dangerous when it comes to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Risks leading to carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Blocked ventilation areas outside your home
    • Because a lot of appliances in homes use natural gas for fuel, ventilation is installed to ensure that all emissions are safely brought outside. Blockages, like snow, can send carbon monoxide emissions back into the house.
  • Pre-warming cars or using generators in garages
    • Having your car running or generator working for even just a few minutes in a closed garage can cause dangerous levels of carbon monoxide to build up.

What are the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning?

Because carbon monoxide is tasteless, colorless, and odorless, leaks are hard to detect.

Look for the following physical symptoms in people or pets if you suspect a leak:

  • Symptoms resemble flu, cold, or infection
  • Ringing in ears
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Weakness or dizziness

If you have pets, they can experience symptoms more quickly than humans. Look for lethargic or slow moving behavior.

Many people who experience these symptoms will lay down to feel better or rest. Some of these people do not wake up. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, go to your nearest medical center emergency room or poison center as soon as possible. Call (800) 222-1222 to contact the New England Poison Control Center.


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