It's so cold that even Chicago's polar bear doesn't want to go out, so we know that staying inside is a good idea. However, as people across North America turn on space heaters, they're also upping the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is the colorless, odorless gas that's produced by appliances and devices that generate combustion fumes--like space heaters and portable generators that run on propane, natural gas, and kerosene. Normally, these appliances aren't too big a concern, but running them more does increase your risk. The health threat happens when too much CO gets trapped in a poorly ventilated space, like your bedroom. Electric space heaters do not pose the same air quality concerns.
The Mayo Clinic says the symptoms of CO poisoning include dull headaches, weakness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, and blurred vision. It can even lead to death. If you think you've been exposed to too much CO, they recommend getting fresh air ASAP and consulting with a doctor.
Here are Science Daily's quick tips for avoiding carbon monoxide poisoning:
· Install a CO alarm inside your home near all sleeping areas and test it monthly.
· Place the CO alarm at least 15 feet away from any fuel-burning appliances.
· Have gas, oil or coal-burning appliances, chimneys and fireplaces checked by a professional every year.
· Do not use a kitchen stove or oven to heat your home.
· Never use a grill, generator or camping stove inside your home, garage or basement.
· Do not leave your car or motorcycle engine running inside a garage, even with the garage door open.
Don't forget our best energy-saving winter advice: Put on a sweater. Or two.