Weekly Feature

2018-01-17 / Editorials

January is a dangerous time for CO poisoning

A ccording to data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, January is the worst month of the year for carbon monoxide poisoning. Unintentional carbon monoxide exposure accounted for 15,000 emergency room visits annually between 1999 and 2004, the CDC reported, with an average of 439 people dying each year.

Carbon monoxide can be fatal, and sometimes difficult to detect. Occasionally, there are reports to state police and the county sheriff’s office regarding residents who experienced the dangerous fumes in their homes.

Being educated about how to detect and prevent carbon monoxide poisoning can save lives.

The first step is to ensure that your home has at least one carbon monoxide detector in it and that the batteries are changed every time you switch your clocks in the spring and fall. Detectors last for an average of five years and should be replaced at that interval, according to the Amanda Hansen Foundation, which seeks to educate the public about carbon monoxide poisoning. Additionally, make sure that gas appliances are vented properly and that portable flameless chemical heaters are never used inside a home or garage.

Other items that should never be burned or used indoors include all types of charcoal, portable gas camp stoves and generators.

Gas ranges and ovens should never be used for the purpose of heating.

Sometimes, however, appliances can be faulty, causing high levels of carbon monoxide in a home, so it is also critical to know the signs and symptoms of poisoning from the gas.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. One of the most dangerous aspects of the gas is that those who are sleeping or drunk can die from poisoning before they ever experience symptoms, which is another reason alarms are of great importance in a home.

This time of year, as the weather chills, more time is spent indoors, increasing risk and the need for safety precautions.

The changing weather also prompts the use of gas- and oil-burning furnaces, which can be carbon monoxide hazards if they are not working properly.

While carbon monoxide is odorless, it is sometimes associated with the smell of natural gas. Should you sense this odor in your home, have a carbon monoxide alarm sound, or experience common symptoms, immediately leave the residence and call 911.

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