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Offered by Kristine Waters Ray, MD, Premier Pediatrics

With winter and cooler temperatures still in full swing, many of us are using space heaters, fireplaces and wood stoves for warmth. While these can make our house cozy, they do come with increased risk of exposure to Carbon Monoxide, which is a harmful gas that can affect health and even cause death.

What is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gas that binds to part of our blood and affects the way we are able to carry oxygen in our blood.

Where is it found?
CO is a by-product of heaters and appliances, including anything that burns gasoline, natural gas, wood, oil, kerosene and propane. It has no color, odor or taste and can be very difficult to detect.

Who is at risk?
Anyone who resides in a home that uses appliances, heaters or devices that burn the above fuels is at risk of exposure. Kids are at increased risk because they breathe more frequently and can inhale more CO gas per pound of body weight than an adult.

How do I prevent exposure?
Every home should have a battery operated CO detector that is functional and tested often. This can promote early detection of a CO leak and prevent unintentional CO exposures. Additionally, check fireplaces and stoves annually to be sure they vent properly, be sure to use space heaters in well ventilated areas and never use grills/hibachis indoors.

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