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Carbon monoxide can be deadly

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Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011

Fall brings cold weather — and potential danger for families without carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in their homes.

The most common cause of CO buildup is a clogged or faulty home heating system -- propane, natural gas, oil, wood or coal.

In October, two Cheswick children were rushed to a hospital after their family's CO alarm went off. The CO build-up was caused by a leak in the home's natural gas line -- the second time there was a CO leak in the home.

CO poisoning is preventable by an annual inspection and by checking that vents are not blocked. But the easiest, most important precaution is to purchase a CO alarm -- the only proven way to be alerted to a toxic amount of CO. CO is colorless and odorless, so without an alarm, people can't know if it reaches unsafe levels until they get sick.

Pennsylvania Senate Bill 920 would strengthen requirements for CO alarms in homes.

CO poisoning killed 578 Pennsylvanians from 2000-06. We need to tell our legislators to pass SB 920 this fall, so Pennsylvanians are protected this winter.

Ruth McDermott-Levy & Nina M. Kaktins


The writers are registered nurses and environmental health co-chairs for the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association.

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