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More than 400 deaths a year caused by carbon monoxide poisoning

According to the CDC, at least 430 people die in the U.S. every year from carbon monoxide poisoning, not linked to fires.

And more than 20,000 visit the emergency room for the same reason.

Carbon monoxide is found in fumes from generators, stoves, lanterns, gas ranges and more.

Local firefighters respond to more CO related calls this time of year, according to Lisa Todd with the Columbia Fire Department.

“We respond to carbon monoxide detector calls more frequently in the winter because they do, if you leave your car running in the garage, there’s carbon monoxide building up in your garage,” Todd said. “If you have it attached to your home, it will get into your home.”

According to the CDC, if you are using back-up generators, or other gas-powered engines, you can prevent carbon monoxide poisoning by installing battery operated CO detectors near every bedroom.

Never run those engines inside your home, basement or garage, the CDC said. And keep them at least 20 feet away from any door, window or vent.

“Carbon monoxide levels can build up over time,” Todd said. “So even a small amount over a long period of time can be very bad. Often times they’ll get headaches, sometimes they just fall asleep depending upon the level. But it is difficult to take care of. If they have really bad carbon monoxide poisoning, a lot of times the hospital will take them to a hyperbaric chamber.”

But generators can be very useful in cold weather when used properly, according to Boone Electric Cooperative.

“We recommend that you take a generator, and you place it outside, far enough away from the house that it’s safe and we don’t have to worry about carbon monoxide coming back in the house, using a very heavy extension cord and plugging various appliances and just rotating what you plug in to keep the refrigerator cold, keep the deep freeze frozen, and if you want to be able to turn on the TV,” Chris Rohlfing with Boone Electric Cooperative said.

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