(WETM) – Today it was announced that a Chemung County man was killed and several others injured from carbon monoxide poisoning. But what is carbon monoxide and how can you stay safe?
Carbon monoxide frequently mentioned or abbreviated by (CO), is a colorless, odorless gas that is produced anytime a fossil fuel is burned. It is produced anytime you burn fuel in cars, trucks, small engines, gas stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, or furnaces. CO can build up indoors and poison people and animals who breathe it and can cause sudden illness and death.
Who is at risk of CO poisoning?
Everyone is at risk for CO poisoning, while infants, the elderly, and people with chronic heart disease, anemia, or respiratory problems are more likely to get sick. More than 400 Americans die annually from unintentional CO poisoning not linked to fires. With more than 100,000 emergency room visits, and 14,000 hospitalizations.
What are the symptoms of CO poisoning?
The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. Symptoms are often described as “flu-like symptoms.” If you breathe in a lot of CO, it can cause you to go unconscious or even kill you. Some people have bright red skin, however, this is frequently a late sign and usually, the person is deceased when this appears.
How can you prevent CO poisoning in your home?
- Install a battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector in your home. Check or replace the detector’s battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. Place your detector where it will wake you up if it alarms, such as outside your bedroom. Consider buying a detector with a digital readout. This detector can tell you the highest level of CO concentration in your home in addition to alarming. Replace your CO detector every five years.
- Have your heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil, or coal-burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
- Do not use portable flameless chemical heaters indoors.
- If you smell an odor from your gas refrigerator have an expert service it. An odor from your gas refrigerator can mean it could be leaking CO.
- When you buy gas equipment, buy only equipment carrying the seal of a national testing agency, such as Underwriters’ Laboratories.
- Make sure your gas appliances are vented properly. Horizontal vent pipes for appliances, such as a water heater, should go up slightly as they go toward outdoors, as shown below. This prevents CO from leaking if the joints or pipes aren’t fitted tightly.
- Have your chimney checked or cleaned every year. Chimneys can be blocked by debris. This can cause CO to build up inside your home or cabin.
- Never patch a vent pipe with tape, gum, or something else. This kind of patch can make CO build up in your home, cabin, or camper.
- Never use a gas range or oven for heating. Using a gas range or oven for heating can cause a build-up of CO inside your home, cabin, or camper.
- Never burn charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal – red, gray, black, or white – gives off CO.
- Never use a portable gas camp stove indoors. Using a gas camp stove indoors can cause CO to build up inside your home, cabin, or camper.
- Never use a generator inside your home, basement, or garage or less than 20 feet from any window, door, or vent.
- When using a generator, use a battery-powered or battery-backup CO detector in your home.
How can you avoid CO poisoning from your vehicle?
- Have a mechanic check the exhaust system of your car or truck every year. A small leak in the exhaust system can lead to a build-up of CO inside the car.
- Never run your car or truck inside a garage that is attached to a house even with the garage door open. Always open the door to a detached garage to let in fresh air when you run a car or truck inside.
- If you drive a car or SUV with a tailgate when you open the tailgate open the vents or windows to make sure air is moving through. If only the tailgate is open CO from the exhaust will be pulled into the car or SUV.
Some additional tips from the CDC on how you can prevent Carbon Monoxide Exposure
- Do have your heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil, or coal-burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
- Do install a battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector in your home. Check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. If the detector sounds leave your home immediately and call 911.
- Do seek prompt medical help if you suspect CO poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseated.
- 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 car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open.
- Don’t burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t vented.
- Don’t heat your house with a gas oven.
- Don’t use a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine less than 20 feet from any window, door, or vent. Use an extension cord that is more than 20 feet long to keep the generator at a safe distance.
For more information on Carbon Monoxide, you can visit the CDC’s website and even take a class for educational purposes.