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CO detectors save lives

Carbon monoxide can’t be seen, can’t be smelled and can’t be heard, but poisoning from it can be prevented.

The Steubenville community still is mourning the deaths of James and Carolyn Swearingen Jr., who were found in their Lincoln Avenue home nearly two weeks ago. Carbon monoxide poisoning was ruled as the cause of death. The boiler in their home apparently malfunctioned, releasing the deadly gas into the house.

Every homeowner should have a carbon monoxide detector in the house, in addition to smoke detectors.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that kills without warning. It claims the lives of hundreds of people every year and makes thousands more ill. Carbon monoxide is created when fuels, such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil and methane, burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel can be sources of carbon monoxide.

The initial symptoms of low to moderate carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to the flu, but without the fever, and include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness.

High level carbon monoxide poisoning results in progressively more severe symptoms, including mental confusion, vomiting, loss of muscular coordination, loss of consciousness and ultimately death.

A carbon monoxide detector should be placed outside the bedroom area. A carbon monoxide alarm will sound at a level where short-term exposure will not have a serious effect.

Test the detectors at least once a month. If the alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door and call the fire department or 911.

Even homes without natural gas service should have a carbon monoxide detector if there is an attached garage.

The Steubenville Fire Department this week responded to a carbon monoxide detector going off in a home. The readings inside were high and could have been fatal over time. The resident said he heard about what happened at the Swearingen’s home and decided to buy a carbon monoxide detector. The carbon monoxide detector was purchased a day before the fire department was called to his home.

Carbon monoxide detectors are life savers and every home should have at least one.

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