As summer draws to a close, temperatures start to cool off, especially at night. It’s only a matter of time until we reluctantly head to the thermostat to turn the heat on. If you’re like most, you try to wait as long as you can to flip that switch, thinking that maybe it will stave off the cold weather longer.
It's important to safeguard against Carbon Monoxide -- a silent killer.
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an odorless and colorless gas which is found in fumes that are produced when you burn fuel, like when you turn your car, stove, grill, fireplace, or furnace on. If safeguards are not in place, the fumes these items generate can accumulate indoors and poison both people and animals, causing injury and death.
According to the National Safety Council, more than 400 people die annually as a result of Carbon Monoxide poisoning, with more than 20,000 people visiting an emergency room for symptoms and 4,000 being admitted to the hospital.
CO poisoning can often mimic “flu-like” symptoms - headache, fatigue, nausea, dizziness and shortness of breath. Late signs of Carbon Monoxide poisoning are confusion, vomiting, loss of consciousness and ultimately death. It’s imperative to know and recognize the early symptoms as soon as possible to prevent injury and death.
Simple Safety Tips
Fortunately, there are simple safeguards that you can put in place to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning and they include:
- Have a working CO detector on every floor of your house and outside every bedroom. Check the batteries in them every year, test them every month to make sure that they are operational and follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding when to replace them;
- Get your furnace, water heater and other gas burning appliances in your home inspected and serviced every year by a qualified professional;
- Inspect and clean your chimney every year. Ensure that the damper is open before using it and left open well after use;
- Never use a gas oven to heat your home;
- Never use portable, flameless, chemical heaters in your home;
- Only run gas generators more than 20 feet from any window and never inside your home, basement or garage
- Pull your vehicle out into the driveway and away from the house - Never let a vehicle run in an attached garage.
- If your CO alarm alerts, vacate your house immediately, call 911 as soon as possible and wait for emergency personnel to arrive.
Winter is Coming...
While you’re putting away lawn furniture and readying your home for colder weather, making a few small observations and putting the safeguards above in place will ensure that your family is protected from Carbon Monoxide poisoning.
More information regarding CO poisoning can be found by visiting: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/co/faqs.htm; Safe Kids Worldwide: https://www.safekids.org/blog/its-national-carbon-monoxide-awareness-week; The National Safety Council: https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/safety-topics/other-poisons/carbon-monoxide; and the U.S. Fire Administration: https://www.usfa.fema.gov/prevention/outreach/carbon_monoxide.html.