As temperatures plummet and heating bills rise, people may turn to alternate sources of heat – and that’s prompting a warning from doctors at Mercy.
“Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas created by incomplete combustion that’s lethal even at low levels,” explained Dr. Kenneth Larson, Mercy trauma surgeond. “While it can come from your regular gas heater, it seems to be more of a problem with space heaters, fireplaces and wood stoves. Symptoms include headache, nausea, confusion, lethargy and finally coma and death.”
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 170 people die each year in the United States from carbon monoxide (CO) produced by consumer products. To protect your family, remember these three things:
- Inspection - A yearly and professional inspection of all fuel-burning appliances is vital for detecting possible CO leaks that can’t be seen with the naked eye.
- Location - Never use a generator, grill, camp stove, or other fuel burning device inside a home, garage, basement or crawlspace. Locate the device away from doors, windows or vents that might allow CO to creep back indoors.
- Installation - Install a Carbon Monoxide alarm in a central location and on all levels outside of sleeping areas.
Make sure to test the CO alarm monthly. If the alarm sounds, exit the area to a location of fresh air and call for help. Remain there until emergency personnel arrive to assist you.