January is Carbon Monoxide Awareness Month

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Did you know that carbon monoxide related poisonings increase by 10% during winter months?  

carbonmonoxideawareness1That’s right, the increased use of home heating systems, use of gasoline-powered generators during and after winter storms, and indoor use space heaters all contribute to the increased dangers of carbon monoxide exposures during winter.

At any time of the year, carbon monoxide is referred to as “the silent killer” because it can’t be seen or smelled, but at high levels it can kill a person in minutes. Hundreds of people die accidentally every year from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by malfunctioning or improperly used fuel-burning appliances. Even more die from carbon monoxide produced by idling cars. Pregnant women, infants, the elderly, and people with anemia or with a history of heart or respiratory disease can be especially susceptible.

Carbon monoxide is produced whenever a fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood, or charcoal is burned. If appliances that burn fuel are maintained and used properly, the amount of carbon monoxide produced is usually not hazardous. However, if appliances are not working properly or are used incorrectly, dangerous levels of carbon monoxide can result.

According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, carbon monoxide poisoning is the leading cause of unintentional poisoning death in the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also reports that non-fire-related carbon monoxide poisoning is responsible for approximately 15,000 emergency department visits and nearly 500 deaths annually in the United States.Recognize and understand the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. At moderate levels, you or your family can experiencecarbonmonoxideawarenesshouse severe headaches, dizziness, mental confusion, nausea, or fainting. You can even die if these levels persist for a long time. Low levels can cause shortness of breath, mild nausea, and mild headaches, and may have longer-term effects on your health. Since many of these symptoms are similar to those of the flu, food poisoning, or other illnesses, you may not recognize that carbon monoxide poisoning could be the cause.Prevention is the key to avoiding carbon monoxide poisoning. Please download our Carbon Monoxide Safety & Prevention brochure for information on how you can protect your family.

In addition to the safety tips outlined below, one thing we strongly encourage is getting a free or low-cost home energy audit from a qualified professional. Not only will an auditor be able to generate a report detailing how efficiency upgrades can save you money on heating and cooling costs, but the audit requires a safety check of your home’s fuel-burning appliances which includes a carbon monoxide test. To arrange for an energy audit of your home, please start here: www.longislandgreenhomes.org.

 

January is Carbon Monoxide Awareness Month

 Carbon Monoxide Safety and Awareness Tips
 
Always Do
  • Install a UL certified battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. Remember that CO detectors do not serve as smoke detectors and vice versa.
  • Carefully follow manufacturers’ instructions for placement, use and maintenance.
  • Have a high standard CO detector fitted outside sleeping areas, and main living areas on each level of the home.
  • If the detector sounds leave your home immediately and call 911. Digital models offer the advantage of being able to observe levels that are below the alarm threshold.
  • Recognize symptoms and seek prompt medical attention if you suspect CO poisoning.
  • Adhere to manufacturers instructions when using appliances such as furnaces, ranges, water heaters and room heaters; engine-powered
Regularly Do
  • Have a qualified technician fuel-burning appliances and chimneys at the beginning of each heating season to make sure they are operating properly.
  • Have your vents and chimney checked and cleaned annually.
  • Have a energy audit of your home done every five to ten years – not only will it identify carbon monoxide leaks (even at low levels,) but an audit can also lower your utility bills by identifying was of improving your home’s energy performance. Visit longislandgreenhomes.org for more information.

Never Do

  • Never use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, garage or outside near a window.
  • Never run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open.
  • Never burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t vented.
  • Never heat your house with a gas stove or oven.
  • Never sleep in a room with an un-vented gas or kerosene space heater.