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10 Potential Death Traps Lurking in Your Home

Carbon Monoxide

For those homeowners who heat their homes with natural gas, propane, or oil, or those who cook with gas ranges, carbon monoxide is an ever-present danger. Another odorless, colorless gas, carbon monoxide is exceedingly dangerous and can kill quickly. The risk, not surprisingly, is even more prevalent during the winter months, when homeowners button up their houses to keep warm. Make sure all heating and cooking vents are properly cleared.

Also, invest in several hard-wired CO detectors, and make sure they all have battery back-ups. Replace the batteries on a regular basis (say, every time you change the clocks), instead of waiting until the low-battery alarm is triggered (Murphy's Law dictates that if you don't, the batteries will run out at 3 a.m. on a Sunday, when you can't find a 24-hour hardware store). If the alarm sounds, contact your local fire department immediately.

Even the chemicals in processed wood logs or blocks can emit carbon monoxide. Make certain that your fireplace is properly vented. And if you use your fireplace frequently, have it routinely cleaned by a qualified and licensed chimney sweep to avoid fire hazards.

If you suspect you've been exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning (signs include dizziness, headaches and nausea), contact your doctor [source: American Lung Association].

Do-it-yourself? Be careful.