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HSHS hospitals offer carbon monoxide safety tips

With the weather becoming colder, many people are turning on their heating systems for the first time this season. HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals are urging people to protect themselves against carbon monoxide poisoning. 

The hospitals recommend that people install a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector in their homes near bedrooms. “A good rule of thumb is to check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall to ensure its effectiveness,” said Erik Dickson, M.D., chief physician executive at HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals.

Additional tips include:

• Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas or coal-burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
• Do not use portable, flameless chemical heaters indoors.
• Never use a generator inside your home, basement or garage or less than 20 feet from any window, door or vent. Fatal levels of carbon monoxide can be produced in just minutes.
• If you have a chimney, have it checked and cleaned every year, and make sure your fireplace damper is open before lighting a fire and well after the fire is extinguished.
• Make sure your gas appliances are vented properly.
• Never use a gas oven for heating your home.
• Never let your car run idle while in the garage.

“Low to moderate carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms can include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness,” added Dickson. “High poisoning can include mental confusion, vomiting, loss of muscular coordination and loss of consciousness.” If you or a loved one is experiencing these symptoms, call 911 immediately.

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