Every year, the number of emergency room visits for carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning more than doubles during the colder winter months according to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH.) As temperatures drop, the use of fuel-burning heaters and other appliances increase as people try to stay warm.
What is CO?
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, invisible gas that is produced when gasoline, natural gas, propane, and other fuels are not completely burned during use. Exhaust from automobiles is the most common source of CO, but small gas engines, lanterns, stoves, gas ranges, and furnaces also produce it. When appliances and furnaces are improperly adjusted or used in poorly ventilated areas, dangerous amounts of carbon monoxide can build up in the blood, replacing oxygen, and may cause asphyxiation.
CO Poisoning Symptoms
- Persistent, sever headaches and dizziness (usually affecting more than one person in an enclosed area)
- Nausea, vomiting and fatigue
- Shortness of breath and confusion
If the presence of CO is suspected based on these symptoms, evacuate from the home and call 911.
Minnesotans can avoid CO poisoning through simple prevention measures. Here are some tips for preventing illnesses:
- Have your heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil, wood or coal-burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
- Check or replace the battery on your carbon monoxide monitor when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall.
- Inspect your home after heavy snow fall and make sure snow is removed from around exhaust stacks, vents and fresh-air intakes.
- Do not heat your house with a gas oven.
- Generators should be at least 20 feet away from the home.
- Never leave a vehicle on idle inside a closed area, such as a garage.
Winter is here, so now’s the time to make sure your home is safe for the holidays! Schedule your Free Heating Service Call (when repairs are made) now and make sure your home is ready to keep you and your family warm, and secure, all season long.