MADISON, Wis. (October 4, 2014) – Since October is National Fire Prevention Month, families will be performing home fire drills and testing smoke alarms to ensure they work properly. At the same time, they should also be testing their carbon monoxide (CO) detectors. Many folks may not be aware that both smoke detectors and CO detectors are required by the State of Wisconsin.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission about 170 people in the United States die every year from CO produced by consumer products.
“Anything that burns a fuel — such as a furnace, fireplace, generator, gas appliance or car — can produce CO. It’s vital to properly maintain and operate these pieces of equipment to prevent CO from building up in your home. If carbon monoxide lingers in your home, apartment or garage, it can trigger serious health issues,” said Ron Von Haden, CIC, Executive Vice President of the Professional Insurance Agents of Wisconsin (PIAW).
Families in cold weather climates have an extra risk as they may be tempted to use stoves, ovens or even gas or charcoal grills to help heat the home. “Using these appliances for heat is extremely dangerous as it can lead to fires and/or CO poisoning,” noted Von Haden.
Following are some important safety tips:
- When warming up a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor in the garage, even if the door is open.
- Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not covered with snow as CO could build up inside the vehicle, even if it is outside a garage.
- Keep fireplaces and gas stoves clean and well vented.
- During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.
- NEVER use gas or charcoal grills inside the home.
- Be sure generators are located in a well-ventilated location outdoors away from windows, doors and vent openings.
Initial symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea or dizziness. High levels of CO can case mental confusion, vomiting, and loss of muscle control and unconsciousness.
“If your detector sounds or you are concerned about CO levels, get everyone out of the house and call 911 from a safe location,” noted Von Haden.