ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Yes, your furnace and other fuel-fired appliances can make you sick, even kill you, if they aren't maintained and operated properly.
With winter temperatures now tickling the state, the New Mexico Poison and Drug Information Center is reminding resident of the danger of poisoning by carbon monoxide.
The gas produced as a byproduct of burning fuels in appliances like furnaces, stoves, ovens, fire places, an generators is especially dangerous because it cannot be detected by sight, smell or taste, according to the center. Complicating detection is the similarity in symptoms between carbon monoxide poisoning and seasonal illnesses, the center added.
"Symptoms may include headache, dizziness, aches and confusion," the center said in a statement released Tuesday. "Although carbon monoxide poisoning does not produce fever or diarrhea, symptoms may be confused with the flu.
"Since carbon monoxide gas is undetectable by human senses, and the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are shared with other seasonal illnesses, prevention and early detection of exposure to carbon monoxide gas is crucial."
The center also provide this list of precautions people can take to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning to to minimize its effects:
- Properly install a carbon monoxide detector on each floor and outside of every sleeping area of your home.
- If the alarm sounds on a detector, turn off all fuel-burning devices, open doors and windows and vacate the premises immediately until the source can be identified and repaired by a qualified technician. Inexpensive detectors can be found at any hardware store.
- Have your furnace, fireplace, chimney, wood stoves, flues and other fuel-burning appliances inspected, adjusted and repaired, if needed, before every heating season.
- Do not use charcoal grills indoors (including inside a tent, car or garage) for either cooking or heating – even if the door(s) are open.
- Do not use your oven to heat your home or put foil underneath a gas oven, as this interferes with combustion.
- Do not use your clothes dryer to heat your home.
- Do not attempt to warm up your car by letting the engine run in an enclosed or attached garage – even if the door(s) are opened.
- Do not run a generator in your home, garage or crawlspace – ventilating the area by opening windows and doors or using fans will not prevent the accumulation of carbon monoxide gas.
- Contact the New Mexico Gas Company immediately at 888-NM-GAS-CO (888-664-2726) to report a gas related emergency. Refer to the New Mexico Gas Company's websi te to learn more about carbon monoxide safety and what to look for when shopping for a carbon monoxide detector.
- If you think that you or someone you know has been exposed to carbon monoxide gas, call The New Mexico Poison and Drug Information Center immediately at 1-800-222-1222. Our poison center is staffed with specially trained pharmacists who are prepared to respond with information and treatment advice about carbon monoxide poisoning.
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