CO poisoning threat rises as temperatures drop

Firefighters recommend CO detectors on every floor of your home.
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Firefighters are issuing a warning about an invisible danger that threatens all of us in the cold.

When it gets this cold outside, heaters are cranked and, for some, fires are roaring in the fireplace. While this may seem perfect for the holidays, it also presents a very real danger - one firefighters are fighting blindly.

"You don't know you're being exposed to it until someone finds you unresponsive or you start displaying symptoms," said Shane Hardwick, Wayne Township EMS.

Hardwick says carbon monoxide poisoning runs have been a weekly occurrence since the temperatures dropped.

"When those furnaces get going, that's when you see the problems," he said.

In the United States each year, 400 people are killed and more than 20,000 end up in the emergency room due to carbon monoxide poisoning. The best line of defense is a carbon monoxide detector.

"It wouldn't hurt for anybody to have a CO detector in their house. The ones we are really targeting are the ones heating their homes with gas appliances," Hardwick said.

For medics, carbon monoxide poisoning can be challenging to deal with.

"The real caveat to CO poisoning is not the treatment, it's the diagnosis," Hardwick said.

A CO detector in your home is important, but it's not the only tool that can help save your life. Every ambulance in Wayne Township carries a Rad-57 oximeter, which saves time and lives.

"The tool that we have now is the best thing that we could possibly use to sort out if it's a CO issue or some other kind of emergency," Hardwick said.

Treatment is as simple as large doses of oxygen, but the best remedy is prevention.

A carbon monoxide detector for the home plugs into the wall and costs around $30. You can also buy battery-operated smoke and CO combination detectors. The important thing is to have one on each level of your home.