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Carbon Monoxide Alarms Can Help Prevent More Tragedies

To the Editor:

Four adults and five children were hospitalized on June 14 after experiencing the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning in their apartment in Oakton. Luckily, these lives were saved, but this isn’t always the case.

Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CO poisoning causes more than 400 deaths and 20,000 emergency department visits in the U.S. annually.

Often called the “silent killer,” CO is produced anytime a fuel is burned. Potential sources include gas or oil furnaces, water heaters, space heaters, clothes dryers, barbecue grills, fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, gas ovens, generators, and car exhaust fumes. When these appliances malfunction or are used improperly, CO poisoning may occur.

The National Fire Protection Association reports that nearly 89 percent of reported non-fire CO incidents take place at home. Having a working carbon monoxide alarm is the only safe way to detect this poisonous gas, so now is the time to install CO alarms or make sure your current alarms are updated.

Just like you can’t predict a fire in your home, you also can’t predict when a carbon monoxide leak will happen. Take steps to protect your family from this odorless, tasteless, invisible gas. Make sure you have fuel-burning appliances inspected, never

idle your vehicle in an attached garage or operate a generator indoors, and remember to install CO alarms in your home. For more information, visit http://www.fairfaxva.gov/firesafety/AboutCO.asp.

Dave Rohr

Fire Chief

City of Fairfax Fire Department