January Safety Tip: Carbon monoxide is the invisible killer
More than 400 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 20,000 visit the emergency room, and more than 4,000 others are hospitalized.
How Can I Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in My Home?
Winter can be a prime time for carbon monoxide poisoning as people turn on their heating systems and mistakenly warm their cars in garages.
The National Safety Council recommends you install a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector in your home near the bedrooms. Check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. The CDC offers these additional tips:
- Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas or coal-burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year
- Do not use portable flameless chemical heaters indoors
- Never use a generator inside your home, basement or garage or less than 20 feet from any window, door or vent; fatal levels of carbon monoxide can be produced in just minutes
- Have your chimney checked and cleaned every year, and make sure your fireplace damper is open before lighting a fire and well after the fire is extinguished
- Make sure your gas appliances are vented properly
- Never use a gas oven for heating your home
- Never let a car idle in the garage
- Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning
Steps to Take When Carbon Monoxide Alarm Sounds
The CPSC says never ignore a carbon monoxide alarm, and do not try to find the source of the gas. Instead, follow these steps:
- Immediately move outside to fresh air
- Call emergency services, fire department or 911
- Do a head count to check that all persons are accounted for
- Do not reenter the premises until emergency responders have given you permission to do so