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For Immediate Release:
January 31, 2019
Contact: 212-417-5801
press@dos.ny.gov
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NYS Division of Consumer Protection Warns New Yorkers of Carbon Monoxide and Fire Hazards During Extreme Cold Weather

The New York State Division of Consumer Protection today issued a consumer alert about the dangers of carbon monoxide and fire hazards in extreme cold weather. When weather becomes this cold, some consumers may turn to dangerous heating alternatives to stay warm -- propane heaters, generators, space heaters and/or outdoor grills brought inside. Carbon monoxide poisoning and residential fires may have lethal consequences if such devices are used improperly.

"During extreme cold weather, it can literally be a life-or-death situation if someone heats their home via unsafe methods," said New York State Secretary of State Rossana Rosado. "We want New Yorkers to be safe this winter, and these tips will help prevent tragedies."

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless and odorless, but deadly poisonous gas. It is produced by the incomplete burning of various fuels, including coal, wood, charcoal, oil, kerosene, propane, and natural gas. Products and equipment powered by internal combustion engines such as portable generators, snow blowers and cars produce the gas. CO from these sources can build up in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces. People and animals unknowingly breathing in CO can be poisoned, resulting in significant health risks, including death.

When temperatures plummet, home heating systems run for hours and the potential for CO poisoning increases. According to the Center for Disease Control, every year at least 430 people die from accidental CO poisoning across the United States, and 50,000 people seek emergency accidental CO poisoning treatment at hospitals.

The New York State Division of Consumer Protection offers the following tips to keep families safe and warm this winter:

If one suspects carbon monoxide poisoning, they should get to fresh air immediately and then call 911. 

Home Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Tips

Winter Home Heating & Fire Safety Tips

If there is a power failure at home:

The NYS Office of Fire Prevention and Control has a Carbon Monoxide Virtual Toolbox with more information. The NYS Department of Health has additional information on safe heating practices and cold weather preparation.

The Division of Consumer Protection’s Consumer Helpline is 800-697-1220, available Monday to Friday, from 8:30am to 4:30pm. Consumer complaints can be filed at any time via the Division’s website. The Division can also be reached via Twitter at @NYSConsumer or Facebook at www.facebook.com/nysconsumer.

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