This time of year the weather turns chilly and with that many of us turn on our thermostats up so that we may keep warm. For those who have gas heating in their homes this can mean the return of a silent killer. Carbon Monoxide (CO). According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 430 people die in the U.S. each year from CO poisoning. Sadly we hear news reports of people having died from CO poisoning, but what we do not hear is that another 50,000 people per year are treated in emergency rooms for exposure to Carbon Monoxide. The deadly CO can be found in kerosene heaters, lanterns, stoves, furnaces, gas ovens and ranges, generators a common way to receive exposure, by heating up a vehicle in a garage with the door closed. The CDC lists the symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning as headache, dizziness, weakness, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. If someone has consumed alcohol or is sleeping when they are exposed to CO that can die without having any symptoms.
What can you do to prevent CO poisoning? The CDC recommends the following.
• Change the batteries in your CO detector every six months. If you don’t have a battery-powered or battery back-up CO detector, buy one soon.
• Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
• Keep vents and flues free of debris. Debris can block ventilation lines.
• Never leave the motor running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.
• Never run a motor vehicle, generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine less than 20 feet from an open window, door, or vent where exhaust can vent into an enclosed area.
• Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside a home, tent, or camper.
• Never run a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine inside a basement, garage, or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open.