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Cyclone winter weather isn’t just bringing heavy snow, below-freezing temperatures. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is using the increased likelihood of power outages to urge caution while using alternative energy and space heaters. While portable generators and space heaters provide safety in dangerously cold temperatures, they can also cause carbon monoxide poisoning and fires.

CPSC shares tips related to CO Poisoning, smoke alarms, portable heaters, charcoal use, burning candles, and gas leaks to protect American families from falling victim to the silent killer.

They say the use of portable generators should only be done outside at least 20 feet away from dwellings after making sure the unit has been properly maintained. Read owner’s manuals to locate instructions and check for a CO safety shut-off feature. Battery-operated or battery backup CO alarms are most effective when they’re interconnected and placed on every level, in every room of the home. Outside vents for fuel-burning appliances should have snow cleared away to prevent carbon monoxide from building up inside. Test your alarms to make sure they’re in working order before your power goes out. Burning charcoal produces lethal levels of CO and should never be done indoors, even with doors and windows open. Use flashlights whenever possible and avoid burning candles near children, pets, and flammable objects. Leave your home immediately without using electronics if you smell gas leaking.

Individuals experiencing symptoms of CO poisoning may feel nauseous, dizzy, or weak and can become unconscious. Carbon is known as the silent killer due to being colorless and odorless.


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