With colder weather upon us and furnaces in use, it’s a good time to think about the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) and remind folks to take steps to prevent deadly CO poisoning.
In order to stay safe, homeowners should have their heating systems serviced and carbon monoxide detectors installed and maintained.
CO is an invisible, odorless gas that can be fatal. The symptoms of CO poisoning can mimic those of the flu, including headache, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, or loss of consciousness.
If several members of a household experience these symptoms when they are home, but feel better when they are away from the home, there may be a CO problem. Health officials recommend these universal safety tips to prevent CO poisoning:
- Install a carbon monoxide detector near sleeping areas. Install new batteries at least once a year and replace detectors every five to 10 years according to the manufacturer’s directions, as the sensors degrade.
- Have your heating systems, chimney flues, gas appliances and generators checked every year, and cleaned and serviced as needed by qualified heating/appliance contractors.
- Never use portable generators, pressure washer engines, or other gasoline-powered equipment (including tools) inside your home, garage, carport, basement or other enclosed spaces. Be sure to place portable generators at least 20 feet from your home.
- Use gasoline-powered equipment outside and away from doors, windows or air intake vents.
- Use grilling apparatus such as charcoal or gas grills outdoors only.
- Opening windows and doors, and operating fans is NOT sufficient to prevent buildup of CO in a home.
- Get out of the house and seek medical help immediately if you or a family member has unexplained/sudden onset of symptoms of CO poisoning. Symptoms include headache, fatigue, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, and loss of consciousness.
- Call 911 from a cell phone or neighbor’s home
For more information on carbon monoxide poisoning and prevention, visit http://www.cdc.gov/co/.