Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

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Officials are warning people of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. Not only in your car, but in your home.

Those dangers are all too real for the family and friends of Zack Dwyer and Alondra Rivera. The two teenagers died of carbon monoxide poisoning while sitting in an SUV outside Rivera's Fernley home earlier this week.

Carbon monoxide is known as the silent killer; you can't see it, smell it, or taste it.

Still, the incident involving two Fernley teens is something that rarely happens.

"In my career, I've probably seen it one or two times. But this is a very unusual situation. Especially, the fact that the vehicle was outside. It wasn't enclosed in the garage," says Reno Fire Marshal Jeff Donahue.

Donahue says if you have any reason to believe your car is taking in carbon monoxide -- immediately roll the windows down and have a mechanic look at it. These problems normally happen if there is damage to the exhaust system -- or if the tailpipe is blocked.

"You want to be careful where you're parking. You don't want to back up against snowbanks or an obstruction that will not let the gases exhaust properly out of the tailpipe."

Carbon monoxide poisoning happens more often in homes than in cars especially when using natural gas or propane for heat -- or even generators.

The gas can be deadly within minutes or hours, depending on the concentration levels. "Most victims feel that they're coming down with a cold or the flu. If there's no corrective action taken or discovery of it, it can overcome you quite quickly."

A simple way to protect yourself at home is by installing a carbon monoxide detector. "Some are just carbon monoxide alarms. Some are in combination with a smoke alarm," says Ron Markos.

Employees at Carter Brother's Ace Hardware say they've seen an uptick in sales of the detectors in the past month with people using their furnaces more.

One of their customers credits her alarm for possibly saving her life. "Somehow, during the day, the heat exchanger on her furnace had cracked and it was leaking carbon monoxide and she was pretty shook up about it because she said without that alarm, she wouldn't have known and it could have been very deadly."

If your carbon monoxide alarm goes off, it's important to get out of the house as soon as possible and call 911 once you're out in the fresh air. Then fire crews can inspect the air to see if you do have a leak.

Written by Paul Nelson

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