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Carbon monoxide poisonings spike during the cold months: How to keep yourself safe

By Chelsea Humphrey, chumphrey@ktxs.com
Published On: Dec 10 2012 08:52:10 PM CST
ABILENE, Texas -

If you use natural gas or propane in your home, you could be at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning.

It's often referred to as the silent killer due to it's lack of color and odor.

This time of year, there is a higher risk for poisoning due to the use of gas fireplaces, furnaces, and heaters.

J Sanders with the Abilene Fire Department says "if you have a home that has anything that's gas in it, whether it's your water heater, fireplace, furnace, you need to have a carbon monoxide detector".

One of the most important things is to test the detectors periodically and make sure you replace them if they malfunction.

Since carbon monoxide is heavier than air, it stays low to the ground. It's recommended that you keep the detector 16 to 24 inches off the ground.

Getting the heating unit inspected before you turn it on is also recommended. This can be done by any licensed heating and air conditioning professional.

ATMOS Energy, the natural gas provider in Abilene, will come check your home free of charge but only if you're exhibiting symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

These include headaches, dizziness, nausea, and a burning of the eyes, nose, and throat. Unlike many other illnesses with similar symptoms, they're only seen when you're at home or around the source of the carbon monoxide.

If your detector goes off, get outside immediately. Call your gas provider or the fire department. It's important that you keep your home shut up, leaving doors and windows closed.

This will allow the professional's instruments to get accurate readings and properly diagnose your problem.