This upcoming week (Nov. 15-19) is national Winter Hazard Awareness Week and one item that can be overlooked is carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas. It results from the incomplete burning of natural gas, oil, wood, kerosene, charcoal and other fuels under conditions where there is not enough oxygen present. Exposure to low levels of carbon monoxide can cause flu-like symptoms such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, extreme fatigue and shortness of breath. Higher levels can result in unconsciousness or death.Carbon monoxide is most likely to accumulate inside homes during winter when heating systems are in use and homes have been sealed and insulated against the cold. Here are a few tips for carbon monoxide safety. Make sure to properly vent and maintain all fuel-burning appliances and heating devices, make sure your furnace has an adequate air supply, never use gas stoves, ovens or portable propane camping equipment to heat your home, have a qualified technician install and check furnaces and all all fuel-burning appliances, lastly, install a UL-listed carbon monoxide detector.

First Alert, the most trusted brand in fire safety, along with health and safety officials, have issued a timely reminder to the public: the need to replace carbon monoxide alarms as they approach expiration. In 2007, Minnesota enacted regulations that required the installation of carbon monoxide alarms in all newly constructed single-family homes and multifamily dwelling units. However, alarms only last 5-7 years, so those alarms installed seven years ago are likely now expiring.

“These CO alarm requirements marked a turning point for protection for Minnesota’s residents, but with busy lives and other priorities, it’s easy to take life-saving measures like installing carbon monoxide alarms for granted once they’ve been implemented,” said Tarsila Wey, director of marketing for First Alert, a leader in residential fire and CO detection devices. “It’s important to remember that CO can be produced by any fuel-burning device, and with people staying home more, this anniversary underscores the importance of replacing expiring alarms, as that is the only way to detect this poisonous gas and provide early warning.”

Keep you and your family safe this winter and beyond.

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