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Smell the Holidays

2009 December 1

Today begins the countdown for holidays. That is, unless you haven’t already started counting down the days. Usually, it’s during this time, that I pull out my cookie sheets and apron and begin baking. It’s really the only time of year that I truly get into baking. I absolutely love making cookies. My favorite kind of cookie to make is spritz. Even though I might only make a couple dozen cookies, it seems like my house smells of the sweet aroma radiating from the oven for days.

While the weather outside is cold and windy, I can be assured that the heat from all of the baking inside my house keeps me warm. I love the smells of the holidays. Smells of baking, scented candles, and roasted pecans keep me inside for most of December. However, there may be one smell that you and your family may not be able to nor want to smell. I am talking about carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is produced whenever a fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood, or charcoal is burned. If appliances are not working properly or are used incorrectly, dangerous levels of carbon monoxide can result.

Knowing the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can help. At very moderate levels, you or your family can get severe headaches, dizziness, confused, nauseated, or faint. If you do experience these symptoms, get fresh air immediately! Also, go to an emergency room and tell the physician you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning. It can be diagnosed by a simple blood test done shortly after exposure.

Here are some tips to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Make sure your fuel-burning appliances e.g. gas furnaces, gas ranges and ovens, fireplaces, and wood stoves inspected by a trained professional at the beginning of every heating season.
  • Make sure flues and chimneys are connected and in good condition without being blocked.
  • Don’t idle the car in a garage, even if the garage door is open.
  • Don’t sleep in any room with an unvented gas or kerosene space heater.

By taking steps ahead of time, you and your family can enjoy all the wonderful smells of the holiday baking season. And the tastes that come with it as well!

About the author: Emily Bruckmann is an intern at the Office of Children’s Health Protection. She is a senior attending Indiana University who will graduate with a degree in public health this spring.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

6 Responses leave one →
  1. armansyahardanis permalink
    December 1, 2009

    Right, Mrs. Bruckmann! Here,too !!! Celebrate of Hajj, we must, here, give one or more goats or cows to the others, especially the poor personals. Before be cut (*oh my god*!!!!!), its animals wait-for for the days. This times, olala….., very smell. Ya, very-very smell !!!!!!

  2. Lina-EPA permalink*
    December 1, 2009

    Great tips! thanks.

  3. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    December 2, 2009

    This is a terrific message on how important it is to make sure all appliances are hooked up and running properly and get serviced before they are needed. Space heaters in unvented areas are especially dangerous. Every year in the Southern California Region you can read or hear about whole families killed as a result of trying to keep warm using space heaters and having all the doors and windows closed. This winter could be one of our worst seasons for this ever in the Region. The Utility Reform Network is reporting that in 2008 California,s BIG 4 power and gas utilities shut off service to 600,000 homes in 2008 impacting nearly 2.5 million children and adults including many with disabilities. And up to 720,000 more homes will have utilities shut off by the 1st of January. At least 1 out of every 10 Californians is unemployeed and for disabled persons who need to rely on SSI, it has been cut 4 times in 2 years making it very tough for utility bills to be paid. But more space heaters will be used this year and more deaths and injuries will result. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  4. Annette permalink
    December 6, 2009

    Another great way to prevent CO poisoning is to have a CO detector. Install it low as this gas is heavier than air.

  5. Bill Ding permalink
    December 7, 2009

    Hello Emily,
    Your message about flues in a chimney is very applicable to me because I love to make fires in my fireplace once winter hits. There is nothing like being with your significant other while sitting by a nice fire. I am sure you would agree.

    Thanks and keep up the good work. MY.

    Bill Ding

  6. michaelde permalink
    February 6, 2010

    when it comes to heating your garage we’ve been recommending electric heaters ( make sure they have safety features build in )

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