The dangers of carbon monoxide

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(ABC 6 News) – With the colder months ahead, some people are using fuel-burning appliances to stay warm — carrying a risk of a carbon monoxide leak. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas. It’s virtually indetectable.

The Rochester Fire Department said it’s responded to four calls for carbon monoxide just in the last month. The Centers for Disease Control said that at least 430 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning each year. People sleeping or intoxicated can die before ever feeling symptoms. Symptoms can be so subtle many confuse them with the flu.

According to Mayo Clinic, look out for dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath and blurred vision. Loss of consciousness indicates severe exposure, and poisoning can lead to brain or heart damage, miscarriage and even death. According to Rochester city ordinance, rental property owners must install detectors in dwelling and sleeping units that have a fuel-burning furnace.

"It’s hard to put a price on a life so making sure that you have them is of the utmost importance," Captain Caleb Feine with the Rochester Fire Department said.

Make sure to replace batteries in carbon monoxide detectors every six months and keep fuel-burning appliances properly vented.

"Gasoline, diesel fuel, natural gas — any of those gas-burning appliances — one of the byproducts, if it’s not burning efficiently, is carbon monoxide. We don’t know it’s there until potentially it’s too late," Feine said.

When carbon monoxide builds up in enclosed spaces it becomes poisonous. Regularly get any heating system or water heater serviced by a qualified technician. Call the Rochester Fire Department to help determine if there is a carbon monoxide leak and evacuate immediately.

"When we get there one of the things we’d like you to do is just leave your home the way that you found it," Feine said.

If you think you’ve been exposed to a carbon monoxide leak go outside and seek fresh air and seek emergency medical care.