Protect yourself from the invisible killer: Carbon monoxide poisoning

By Samuetta Hill Drew

January is considered the deadliest month in the year for carbon monoxide poisoning by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.  Carbon Monoxide (CO) is often called the invisible killer since it is an odorless, colorless gas created when fuels such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil and methane burn incompletely.  At least two people die each day from carbon monoxide poisoning which is three times greater than July and August.  These statistics should be no surprise since January typically is the coldest winter month of the year in several states throughout America.

Fatalities are higher among men and senior citizens.  Men are at highest risk because they engage in behaviors by using tools and equipment which burn fuel.  Many senior citizens are impacted because to save on utility bills they will use space heaters to stay warm.  Also many  seniors confuse the symptoms for CO poisoning such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, or confusion with flu symptoms and fatigue.

These safety prevention tips should be reviewed and adhered to so you and your family can remain safe during this winter season:

  • Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil or coal burning appliance inspected and serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • Select a CO alarm that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory
  • Follow the manufacturer’s installation instruction and placement. They should be installed in a central location such as outside sleeping areas.
  • Test CO alarms at least once a month: replace them according to the manufacturer’s instruction.
  • If your CO alarms sound, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Make sure all your family members engage in this fresh air response.
  • Don’t use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement or garage or outside your home by a window.
  • Don’t warm up your car by allowing it to idle inside a garage attached to the home, even if the garage door is left open. Drive outside the garage to idle to the car for warmth.
  • Never heat your home by opening the door to your gas oven.

As we begin this new year of 2017, let’s begin by practicing great safety measures by Keeping an Eye on Safety.