With winter fast approaching, health officials of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention are urging Mainers to take steps to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. “More carbon monoxide poisonings happen in the winter than any other time in Maine, but we can all protect ourselves and our families by having our heating systems serviced each year, and making sure we have working carbon monoxide detectors in our homes,” said Maine Department of Health and Human Services State Health Officer Dr. Christopher Pezzullo. In Maine, about 75 percent of all reported cases of carbon monoxide poisoning occur between November and March. Most of these poisonings are caused by home heating appliances that are not working properly or that have blocked vents. Anything that burns fuel, such as an oil or propane boiler or wood stove, produces carbon monoxide. When these appliances are not properly maintained or vented, carbon monoxide can quickly build up inside a home without anyone noticing. Carbon monoxide cannot be seen, smelled or tasted, and can be deadly. As of 2013, more than half (65%) of Maine homes had a carbon monoxide detector, indicating that many residents have already taken action to protect their families from carbon monoxide poisoning. Portable, gas-powered generators that many Maine residents use when the power goes out can also cause severe carbon monoxide poisonings and deaths when used improperly. One portable generator can produce as much carbon monoxide gas as 100 idling cars, and can increase the chance of getting carbon monoxide poisoning by 20 to 300-fold when run in a basement or garage. “Now is a great time to make a plan for using your generator so that you are prepared to use it safely during a storm,” said Dr. Pezzullo. Anyone with a portable generator should have an extension cord long enough to make sure the generator can be run outside, at least 15 feet from windows or doors, and a plan for keeping the generator protected from rain, ice, and snow. Making a plan now can help residents avoid the temptation to run a generator inside a basement, garage or cellar bulkhead during a storm. “We are also highly concerned about people who leave motors running while they work on them in garages or in buildings. This is extremely dangerous, even if windows or doors are open,” said Dr. Pezzullo. About one in eight carbon monoxide poisonings each year occur in garages, sheds or barns while people conduct engine repair or maintenance. While the best prevention is to keep carbon monoxide from ever building up in your home or other enclosed spaces, having an electric carbon monoxide detector with a battery backup near where people sleep can save...