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Ice fisherman warned of carbon monoxide dangers in fishing shelters

Cleveland, OH As thousands of anglers head out onto the frozen lakes this ice fishing season, the Camp Safe Coalition reminds them to keep safety in mind when using a portable propane heater inside an ice shanty or fish house. Using heaters that are not designed for indoor use in an enclosed shelter could place ice fishermen at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. "Carbon monoxide poisoning-related fatalities, such as the recent tragedy in Minnesota, have been a wake-up call to ice fishing enthusiasts everywhere, and we urge everyone to fish and camp safely this winter," said Dennis Pavan, a spokesman for the Camp Safe Coalition. "Ice fishermen need to be aware that many gas-powered propane heaters are not intended to be used indoors or in enclosed areas. Consumers must read and follow the instructions for the specific product being used." Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that is produced from burning fossil fuels. Carbon monoxide reduces the blood's ability to carry oxygen. Low blood oxygen levels can result in loss of consciousness and death. There are a variety of heaters available that are approved for safe use indoors and may be properly used indoors or in well-ventilated enclosures if the warnings and instructions accompanying the product are followed. Low combustion catalytic heaters, such as the Coleman BlackCat, burn oxygen at a very low rate and produce very low, non-harmful levels of carbon monoxide. Heaters with oxygen depletion systems (ODS), such as Mr. Heater Buddy Heaters, shut off automatically if oxygen levels start to fall. The Camp Safe Coalition urges ice fishermen and campers to follow these tips to remain safe this season: Always read the manufacturer's packaging and operating instructions for proper use and, if applicable, proper ventilation. Heaters labeled or identified as "outdoor use only" must never be used indoors or in enclosed areas such as ice shanties, tents, campers, houses and vehicles. Heaters can put people at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning if the heater is used contrary to its warnings, cautionary use instructions, fuel source warnings and restrictions. Do not use camping heaters or lanterns while sleeping. Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, sleepiness and confusion. Consumers who experience any of these symptoms should extinguish any possible source of CO and move to an area with fresh air. See a doctor if you or a member of your family develops cold or flu-like symptoms. Carbon monoxide poisoning, which can easily be mistaken for a cold or flu, is often detected too late. Be aware that alcohol consumption and drug use increase the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning. The surfaces of the heaters are extremely hot - always locate the heater away from traffic and combustible materials. Also be aware of other safety precautions when ice fishing with regards to ice thickness and outside temperatures. It's best to consult with the local fish and game commission office before heading out on the ice. According the Consumer Product Safety Commission there are at least 27 carbon monoxide related fatalities annually from non-vented portable LP propane heaters.

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