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Protect Yourself from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

With a cold snap behind us and another significant snowfall set to fall soon, Fairfield County residents are spending less time outside and more inside -- with the heat on and the windows closed. It is important homeowners are aware of the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas present wherever there is combustion or the burning of fuel. In excess amounts, the gas can affect the body's central nervous system, resulting in brain damage and even death.

During winter months, it is important to take precautions to protect yourself and your family from carbon monoxide poisoning and it is also essential that immediate action be taken if you suspect exposure to carbon monoxide.

In addition to installing carbon monoxide detectors in the home, doctors and practitioners at the Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine Center at Norwalk Hospital , have the following suggestions to keep you safe from carbon monoxide poisoning in your home.

* Make sure your carbon monoxide detector is in good working condition. Ideally, it should be hardwired to your electrical system, with a battery backup.

* Have your home heating system routinely cleaned.

* Check your chimney to make sure it is a open, as animal nests and leaves can clog it.

* Do not use ovens or gas ranges to heat your home.

* Never use kerosene or other fuel-fired space heaters or barbecues in an enclosed or poorly ventilated space.

* Do not use paint strippers in poorly ventilated areas.

* If you notice any problem with your heating system, call your oil or gas company immediately.

* If you suspect a faulty exhaust system in your car, have it repaired immediately. And have a mechanic periodically check the exhaust system in your car.

In addition to taking precautions, it is important to recognize symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. Symptoms include headache, flu-like illness without a fever, a sense of imbalance, dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain, numbness or tingling in extremities. If these symptoms occur, seek medical assistance immediately.

For more information click here, or call Norwalk Hospital's Wound Care and Hyperbaric Center at (203) 852-2434.

When was the last time you checked to see if your carbon monoxide detector is in good working order? Your smoke detector? Take a look, then please give me an honest answer (after you've changed your batteries, please).

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