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Don't Fall Victim to Carbon Monoxide, the "Invisible Killer"

In the news:

Too often incidents such as this do not end well.

Anna Faris, family 'lucky to be alive' following carbon monoxide incident                                                                                         

Anna Faris, the actress and comedian best known for her role in the "Scary Movie" series, says her family had a brush with carbon monoxide poisoning at a vacation home in the Lake Tahoe area on Thanksgiving.

On Tuesday, the North Tahoe Fire Protection District said in a news release that the large extended family of 13 was "lucky to be alive."

According to the Fire Protection District, all of the family members fell ill "to varying degrees" not long after arriving at the rental home, but the group originally believed it was altitude sickness.       

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By Eric Ting is an SFGATE (San Francisco Chronicle) digital reporter

Carbon monoxide, also known as CO, is called the "Invisible Killer" because it's a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. More than 150 people in the Unites States die every year from accidental non-fire related CO poisoning associated with consumer products, including generators. Other products include faulty, improperly-used or incorrectly-vented fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, stoves, water heaters and fireplaces. Fortunately, there are preventive steps we can take to avoid CO tragedy:

Preventative Steps

  • Install at least one UL-Listed battery-powered CO alarm or AC-powered unit with battery backup on each level of your home and near sleeping areas. CO alarms do not last forever. Replace CO alarms every five to 10 years (depending on manufacturer). Check the manufacture date on the back of the alarm, as well as the owner’s guide for replacement recommendations.
  • Test CO alarms at least once a month.
  • If the CO alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for. Call for help from a fresh air location and stay there until emergency personnel arrive.
  • Do not block or shut the exhaust flues or ducts used by water heaters, ranges and clothes dryers.
  • Do not use charcoal or gas grills inside or operate outdoors near a window where CO fumes could seep in through a window.
  • Do not leave your car running in an attached garage or carport.
    Do not use ovens or stoves to heat your home.
  • Make sure appliances are installed and operated according to manufacturer's instructions.
  • Have the heating system, chimney and vents inspected and serviced annually.
  • Examine vents and chimneys regularly for improper connections, cracks, rust or stains.
  • Make sure to read your CO alarm's user's guide and keep it near your CO alarm for quick reference.

These and other resources are available to educate fire departments and communities about the dangers of carbon monoxide and steps we can take to keep our homes safe.

Smart Alarm Choices (IAFC.org)
New UL standard for Smoke Alarms (webinar)
What You Need to Know About the New Smoke Alarms (iCHIEFS News)
Consumer Product Safety Commission

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