When we think of winter, we often think of the dangers associated with it: hazardous road conditions, white-out blizzards and life-threatening cold. One danger we overlook? Carbon monoxide.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas found in fumes produced by furnaces, kerosene heaters, vehicles “warmed up” in garages, stoves, lanterns, gas ranges, portable generators, or by burning charcoal and wood. It can build up indoors and poison people and animals who breathe it.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 430 people die in the U.S. and approximately 50,000 people visit the emergency department each year from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is preventable. Protect yourself and your family by learning the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and how to prevent it.
The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide are headache, dizziness, nausea, weakness, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, evacuate the building and seek medical attention immediately. A true “silent killer,” carbon monoxide can kill people who are sleeping or who have been drinking alcohol before they experience any symptoms.
There are steps you can take to help protect yourself and your household from carbon monoxide poisoning.
• Install a battery-operated or battery back-up carbon monoxide detector in your home. Check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall.
• Check your furnace’s air intake and exhaust regularly during the winter, especially during and after a major snowfall. Make sure nothing is blocking the pipes, including snow and ice.
• Don’t use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement or garage, or near a window.
• Don’t run a vehicle inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the garage door open.
• Don’t use a gas oven to heat your house.
• Don’t burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t vented.
• Don’t use a generator or any gasoline-powered engine less that 20 feet from any window, door or vent.