With temperatures down, carbon monoxide danger is up

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WEST HAVEN--If your home is heated with oil, you need to be aware of minefields that could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

“If you have a system that’s malfunctioning, you’re gonna get an odor, you’re gonna have a visual sight of something going wrong, with soot or a little couple of drips,” said Ed Granfield, president of Oyster River Energy in West Haven.

Also, while cleaning your furnace, there are important steps technicians should be taking to keep the system efficient and homeowners safe.

Changing nozzles, filters, strainers, tuning up the oil burner itself,” says Granfield. “You’re checking the flue passage to be sure there’s safe flow of air to and from the heating equipment. You want to be sure the equipment is exhausting properly.”

As of Monday, the Connecticut Poison Control Center had received approximately 300 calls this year about suspected carbon monoxide poisoning.

“The first thing we tell them is get out of the house,” said Dr. Basmah Safdar, of Yale-New Haven Hospital’s Emergency Department. “Fresh air is the first step.”

In Connecticut an average of four people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning. But, to avoid being a statistic, there are warning signs.

If someone becomes confused or is having a headache, nausea or vomiting, it’s best get them checked out.  The elderly, children, pregnant women and people with heart disease are most susceptible to CO poisoning.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends placing CO detectors near sleeping areas so that you will hear them if they sound off. The commission is also hosting a contest for middle school students to create a "cool poster" about the dangers of carbon monoxide.

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