Carbon monoxide poses risks as North Country braces for extreme cold

New England

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NEW YORK (WWTI) — Temperatures are expected to plummet across the region this weekend, which will create potentially dangerous conditions outdoors. However, there are some hazards indoors during extreme cold as well.

The New York State Division of Consumer Protection issued a consumer alert on January 13, warning carbon monoxide and fire hazards in extreme cold weather.

The Division stated that as temperatures drop, consumers may turn to dangerous heating alternatives to keep warm. This can include propane heaters, generators, space heaters and outdoor grills, as if they are used improperyl can all pose lethal risks of carbon monoxide poisoning and fire hazards.

“We are in the height of the winter months with shorter daylight hours and extreme cold weather. To help fight the extreme cold weather, many people seek additional ways to keep warm and these heating methods can often be dangerous,” Acting Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said in a press release.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless, but deadly poisonous gas. It is produced by the incomplete burning of various fuels, including coal, wood, charcoal, oil, kerosene, propane, and natural gas. Those who unknowingly breath in the gas can be poisoned, resulting in significant health risks, even death.

According to the Center for Disease Control, every year at least 430 people die from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning and 50,000 people seek emergency accidental poisoning treatment.

To avoid these hazards, the New York State Division of Consumer Protection recommended the following tips as temperatures remain cold this winter:

  • Install carbon monoxide alarms
  • Inspect all fuel-burning equiptment every year
  • Do not use a gas or electirc generator in a home, garage, basement or any enclose space
  • Gas generators should be located at least 20 feet from any window, door or vent
  • Do not use a gas or charcoal grill indoors or inside a garage
  • Open the fireplace damper before lighting a fire and keep it open until ashes are cool
  • Never use a gas range or oven to warm a home
  • Do not leave a vehicle running while parked in a garage attached to a home

If one suspects carbon monoxide poisoning, the Division of Consumer said to get fresh air immediately and then call 911.

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