Each year, more than 15,000 people will be hospitalized and 500 will be killed by carbon monoxide — a gas that can’t be seen or smelled. Carbon monoxide poisoning is more likely to occur during winter because it is a gas that is emitted by stoves, gas ranges, and heating systems. Its effects become life threatening when the fumes build up in areas that don’t have a flow of fresh air, which is also more likely to occur during winter. “The danger of carbon monoxide poisoning is that it can have no symptoms,” says Alain Eid, MD, a pulmonologist at Penrose-St. Francis Health Services. "Someone can go to sleep and never wake up.” Detection systems are the best prevention. These systems are typically small units, much like smoke detectors, that can be hardwired into a home or simply plugged into an outlet. A detector should have a backup battery, which needs to be checked each year at the beginning of winter, Eid recommends. Homes that use wood-burning fireplaces or stoves, or homes that have old furnaces or furnaces that are not checked regularly, have the highest likelihood of excess carbon monoxide.
Entries must be received by Dec. 15, 2013. One entry per person.