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Family Escapes Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

By: Sabrina Wu
By: Sabrina Wu

The Foster family bought their house in Weston about seven months ago. It came with a combination smoke/carbon monoxide detector. Steve Foster, manager of the Wisconsin Woodchucks says. He says he knew it was a good thing to have, but the thought didn't really hit home until the detector in his house went off.

"No one ever expects a tragedy to occur." Foster said. "I think it was a tragedy that my family just escaped."

The Foster family was asleep when the alarm sounded.

"We didn't really know what it meant," remembers Foster. "We took the carbon monoxide detector off the wall, and it said 'CO Poisoning: Call 9-1-1'.

"It's one of those things where you go, should we, shouldn't we?" Foster says. "We chose to call 9-1-1, and they told us to get out of the house immediately."

Foster says tests showed there was about 800 parts per million in their house. The Consumer Protection Safety Commission says any amount above 200 ppm is harmful. In some cases, it can even lead to death.

Foster says he's so glad there was a carbon monoxide detector in his house that he went out and bought another one.

Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, poisonous gas. Any home heating system that burns fuel can produce it. That's exactly what happened in the Fosters' case. Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning include headaches, fatigue, nausea and dizziness.

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Steps to Reduce Carbon Monoxide Exposure

  • Keep gas appliances properly adjusted.

  • Consider purchasing a vented space heater when replacing an unvented one.

  • Use proper fuel in kerosene space heaters.

  • Install and use an exhaust fan vented outdoors over gas stoves.

  • Choose properly sized wood stoves that are certified to meet EPA emission standards, make sure that wood stoves fit tightly.

  • Have a trained professional inspect, clean, and tune-up central heating systems (furnaces, flues, and chimneys).

  • Repair any leaks in the heating systems immediately.

  • Do not idle your car inside a garage.

Source: http://www.epa.gov/(United States Environmental Protection Agency Web Site)


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