Simple precautions can help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Consider the following:

  • Invest in carbon monoxide detectors. Install a carbon monoxide detector in the hallway near each sleeping area in your house. Check the batteries every time you check your smoke detector batteries — at least twice a year. If the alarm sounds, leave the house and call the fire department or local utility company from a nearby phone. Carbon monoxide detectors are also available for motor homes and boats.
  • Open the garage door before starting your car. Never run your car in a closed garage. If you have an attached garage, keep the garage door open and the door to the house firmly closed while the car is running.
  • Use gas appliances as recommended. Never use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. Use portable gas camp stoves only outdoors. Use fuel-burning space heaters only when someone is awake to monitor them and doors or windows are open to provide fresh air. Don't run a generator in an enclosed space, such as the basement or garage.
  • Keep your gas appliances and fireplace in good repair. Make sure your gas appliances are properly vented. Clean your fireplace chimney and flue every year. Ask your utility company about yearly checkups for all gas appliances, including your furnace.

If carbon monoxide poisoning has occurred in your home, it's critical to find and repair the source of the carbon monoxide before you return. Your local fire department or utility company may be able to help.

Feb. 21, 2012