As temperatures drop into a deep freeze this week across Connecticut, it is especially important to remember the dangers of carbon monoxide gas inside your home, according to the Connecticut Department of Public Health.
"Everyone who uses oil, natural gas, liquid propane, or wood and pellet stoves should make sure that their heating system has been cleaned and inspected within the last year," the department said in a statement. "If the burning of fuel is incomplete, carbon monoxide gas can form and build up in your home."
The deadly gas has no odor: A carbon monoxide alarm is the only way to know if it is building up in your home.
If you have a carbon monoxide alarm, it is important to test it to make sure that it works. If you don’t have one, now is the time to purchase one, the public health department said.
Place the carbon monoxide alarm in your living space, preferably close to bedrooms or where you spend the most time. Another carbon monoxide alarm can be placed in the basement near the furnace as an early warning signal.
Even if you heat your home with electricity, if you use a portable generator or a stationary home backup generator during a power outage, it is important to have a working carbon monoxide alarm in your living space because the deadly gas can enter your home by getting in around window casings, door frames, and any penetrations through outside walls.
"Sometimes it is hard to tell if you have early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning," the public health department said. The symptoms can resemble the flu — headache, light-headednes, and sleepiness are common to both illnesses.
If there are other people in the house and a number of them develop these symptoms around the same time, carbon monoxide gas may be seeping into your living space. The longer you are exposed, the more dangerous it is.
Carbon monoxide quickly gets into the bloodstream, where it replaces oxygen, the public health department said. If not treated quickly, it can cause brain damage and death.
If you think you may have carbon monoxide poisoning, get people and pets out of the house immediately. Once outside, call 911 from a cellphone or neighbor’s house.
For more information about the dangers of carbon monoxide, contact your local health department, or the Connecticut Department of Public Health by calling 860-509-7740 or visiting its website .
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