Health & Medicine

Don't let carbon monoxide or radon sneak up on you

Carbon monoxide presents a danger both to humans and pets. In 2007, Lexington firefighter Lucas Moore, gave oxygen to a dog rescued after a car had been left running in a garage.
Carbon monoxide presents a danger both to humans and pets. In 2007, Lexington firefighter Lucas Moore, gave oxygen to a dog rescued after a car had been left running in a garage. Lexington Herald-Leader

There's nothing like staying warm and cozy in front of the fire on a cold winter day. But fireplaces that aren't vented properly — and a host of other things — can produce potentially deadly carbon monoxide.

State health officials warn that with cool temperatures comes an increased risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, and homeowners should be aware of the potential risk.

"It can be deadly and should be taken seriously," said Dr. Steve Davis, acting commissioner of the Department of Public Health. In 2011 in Kentucky, there were 206 emergency-room visits caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Kerosene or propane gas stoves and ovens can emit the colorless, odorless gas. The state Board of Housing, Buildings and Construction is requiring the installation of carbon monoxide detectors in all new homes. The detectors must be installed in homes for which building permits are issued after June 1.

Here are some tips to protect your home:

■ Install a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector. Replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall for daylight saving time. If the detector sounds, leave your home immediately and call 911. If you suffer symptoms, call the Poison Control hot line, 1-800-222-1222.

■ Don't use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove or any gasoline- or charcoal-burning device in your home, basement or garage, or outside near a window.

■ Don't run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open.

■ Don't use a fireplace that isn't vented properly. Don't try to heat your house with a gas oven.

■ Follow manufacturers' instructions carefully for kerosene heaters, making sure the wick is set at the proper level and is clean.

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