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Weather raises Carbon Monoxide Risk
The Health Department reminds everyone about the dangers of using alternate heating sources.

February 26, 2004



Charlotte, NC - Heavy, wet snow and gusty winds may increase the likelihood for downed trees and power lines in our area.  Any resulting power outages may force many people to take extraordinary measures to keep warm. Fuel-burning space heaters, faulty furnaces and other hazards may increase the risk of exposure to potentially deadly carbon monoxide gas. 

Fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, gas ranges/stoves, gas clothes dryers and water heaters are all sources of carbon monoxide (CO). Fireplaces, charcoal grills, wood-burning stoves, kerosene heaters and vehicles, generators and other combustion engines running in an attached garage -- even when an outside door is open -- also produce CO.

Media outlets are reminded to alert their audiences of these risks and the appropriate preventive measures. 

· Provide proper ventilation when operating kerosene or other fuel-burning space heaters.
· Never use charcoal and/or gas grills and generators indoors or in unventilated areas. 
· Mecklenburg County’s recently revised CO ordinance now requires all dwellings in the county to have an operating CO alarm.

CO is the number one cause of poisoning deaths in the United States, with more than 3,800 people known to die annually from CO poisoning. Young children, pregnant women, senior citizens and people with heart or respiratory problems are especially vulnerable to CO poisoning.

Effective January 1, 2004, all dwelling units whether owned or leased, regardless of the source of energy used in the dwelling unit and regardless of whether the dwelling unit has an attached garage must now contain at least one operable carbon monoxide alarm. These alarms must be battery-powered or have a battery back up. CO is a poison that is produced when fuels such as gasoline, charcoal, kerosene, etc., are burned. It can rapidly accumulate even in areas that might appear well ventilated. Because CO is colorless, tasteless, odorless and non-irritating, it can overcome an exposed person without warning. It frequently produces weakness and confusion, depriving the person of the ability to seek safety.

A CO detector can be purchased at local home improvement and discount stores for $20 to $50. For more information about CO or the revised ordinance, visit the Health Department's CO poisoning prevention Web site at

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Media Contact: D.C. Lucchesi at 704-432-0344 or

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