Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning


Estelle Margarones

9/21/2015

September is National Preparedness Month and this blog on carbon monoxide is part of a series corresponding with the Federal Emergency Management Association’s weekly themes for the month.
 
After storms where there have been power outages, there is a serious risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in homes, garages, cars, campers, and boats.  When the power is out and people employ other methods of generating power for heating or cooking, carbon monoxide can build up and cause you, your family, and your pets to become ill or even die. The National Weather Service has determined that, in such circumstances, carbon monoxide (CO) is a leading cause of death.
 
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, “Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas created by burning fuel when using portable generators, gas ranges, burning wood, or running your car.” Even charcoal and propane grills can cause CO poisoning.  Adequate ventilation is always necessary or carbon monoxide begins to build. Carbon monoxide is something you can’t see, can’t smell, and can’t hear.
 
Thousands of people are sickened each year because of CO poisoning. Sadly, every year hundreds die from carbon monoxide poisoning.  Symptoms include dizziness, headache, nausea, confusion, shortness of breath and irritability. If you suspect that you have CO poisoning, get fresh air and immediately request medical attention.  Learn more about CO poisoning here.  
 
The good news is that CO poisoning is completely avoidable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers these tips for staying safe when the power goes out: 

  • Never us a generator inside your home or garage, even if the doors and windows are open.
  • Keep generators at least 20 feet from your home—especially from doors and windows.
  • Install battery-operated or battery back-up carbon monoxide detectors near every sleeping area in your home.
  • Check detectors every six months to be sure they are working properly.
Additionally, the CDC urges you to never run your car in the garage, even if the door is open and they caution you never to heat your house with a gas oven. To be safe, have your heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil or coal burning appliances inspected/serviced every year. To learn more about carbon monoxide prevention, click here.
 
Get mitigation tips for natural disasters here.  You can register to participate in America’s PrepareAthon grassroots campaign at www.ready.gov/prepare. For disaster planning resources and templates, please visit macucc.org/disasterresponse.
 
 



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