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Making sure your home has a working carbon monoxide detector

At low levels, CO poisoning symptoms can include dizziness, headache, or flu-like symptoms. At high levels, victims can have mental confusion, vomiting, and they can die.
At low levels, CO poisoning symptoms can include dizziness, headache, or flu-like symptoms. At...
At low levels, CO poisoning symptoms can include dizziness, headache, or flu-like symptoms. At high levels, victims can have mental confusion, vomiting, and they can die.(KVLY)
Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 4:06 AM CDT
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WEST FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - Did you know more than 400 people die each year in the United States from carbon monoxide poisoning? This is the perfect time to make sure your carbon monoxide detector is working.

With temps falling, the West Fargo Fire Department wants to raise the awareness of household heating devices and how to safely use them. CO incidents are more common during the colder months. During the period 2006 to 2010, half of CO incidents reported to local fire departments across the U.S. occurred between the months of November and February, peaking in December.

CO is called the invisible killer because you cannot see CO or smell it. This poisonous gas can come from many sources, including cars, malfunctioning fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, ranges, water heaters and room heaters; and engine-powered equipment such as portable generators. Burning charcoal in fireplaces or in barbeque grills inside a home, or in semi-enclosed areas can also result in lethal carbon monoxide levels.

It is important to get your gas-powered furnaces checked by a contractor. Proper installation, operation, and maintenance of fuel-burning appliances in the home is the most important factor in reducing the risk of CO poisoning. Consumers should have their heating system inspected by a qualified professional and serviced every year to make sure the system is working properly. Inspections should also include checking for proper exhaust ventilation through vents chimneys and flues.

At low levels, CO poisoning symptoms can include dizziness, headache, or flu-like symptoms. At high levels, victims can have mental confusion, vomiting, and they can die. At extremely high levels, it is possible to lose consciousness suddenly without experiencing less severe symptoms. Call 911 if you feel any symptoms, fire department has gas monitors to check levels.

Almost all homes have at least one smoke alarm. However, carbon monoxide alarms are much less common. The American Housing Survey asked if the household had a working carbon monoxide alarm. Only two out of five said “yes.” Make sure to have working CO alarms in the home on every level and outside each separate sleeping area. CO alarms are designed to alarm before potentially life-threatening levels of carbon monoxide are reached. Never ignore a CO alarm when it sounds. Get outside immediately and call 911 from a fresh-air location. The emergency responders and fire department will provide information for safe home re-entry. If you live in an area without access to 911, call your fire department.

Purchase a heater with the seal of an independent testing laboratory. Choose a heater with a thermostat and overheat protection. Make sure your heater has an auto shut-off to turn the heater off if it tips over.

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