Heat Your Home Safely This Winter to Avoid the Dangers of Carbon Monoxide, the Silent Killer
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Heat Your Home Safely This Winter to Avoid the Dangers of Carbon Monoxide, the Silent Killer

Taking a few simple safety precautions will help keep your family safe this winter from Carbon Monoxide poisoning

December 9, 2019

It's that time of year and cold weather is sweeping across the country, which means that households everywhere have the heat turned on. Unfortunately, the late fall and winter months are also the peak time for accidental deaths caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. Don't become a statistic this year. Make sure you are aware of carbon monoxide and the steps you can take to fight this silent killer.

Silent Killer

Carbon monoxide poisoning takes the lives of nearly 450 people per year, which is a reminder that it's called the "silent killer." You can't see it, smell it or taste it. But you can stop it by taking some simple precautions.

Know the Symptoms

Be aware of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. These symptoms, which act more quickly in infants and small children, can include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, sleepiness, and confusion. If you notice these symptoms, get out into fresh air and call 911 immediately. Exposure to carbon monoxide can cause brain damage, heart damage, miscarriage, and death.

Major causes of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

More than 40% of carbon monoxide deaths are associated with the use of generators, such as when they are dangerously operated in a garage or basement. The majority of these deaths happen from November through February.

Other major sources of carbon monoxide poisoning come from malfunctioning heating sources, such as home heating systems, water heaters and fireplaces.

Carbon Monoxide alarms are critical

Install carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home and outside each bedroom. Make sure each alarm has a battery backup. Test both smoke and carbon monoxide alarms once per month to ensure they're working.

Perform Maintenance

You should have all fuel-burning home heating appliances, such as your furnace, chimney, water heater, etc., checked by a professional each year to make sure they are working properly. If repairs or replacements need to be made, they should be performed only by a processional.

Have your chimney and vents checked or cleaned each year. Chimneys can be blocked by debris, which can cause carbon monoxide to build up inside your home or cabin.

Space Heaters

Make sure your portable fuel-burning space heaters include an oxygen depletion sensor, which will turn the heater off to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning if oxygen levels begin to fall. Do not use one of these devices if this sensor is damaged or malfunctioning. Never leave one of these heaters operating when no one is around or when people are sleeping.

Should Never Be Done

  • Never heat your home using a gas oven or stove.
  • Never burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn't vented.
  • Before you light a fire, open the fireplace damper and keep it open until the ashes have cooled, particularly at night while people are sleeping. Embers can smolder for days, even if they feel cool.
  • Never use a kerosene space heater in an enclosed space.
  • Never use a portable generator inside the house, including the garage, basement, or shed. When using a generator, make sure it is outside and at least 20 feet away from the house.
  • Never use a charcoal or gas grill inside or outside close to open windows or doors.
  • Never operate a vehicle inside an enclosed space.