Last week was Carbon Monoxide Safety and Awareness Week in Michigan. The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is reminding everyone to keep their families safe from being poisoned by carbon monoxide this winter.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas that kills more than 500 Americans each year and up to 50 a year in Michigan. It is produced by all forms of combustion. Warning signs include headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, and confusion. The good news is carbon monoxide poisoning is completely preventable.
“Now is the time to ensure that gas-fired furnaces, hot water heaters and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly,” said Dr. Matthew Davis, Chief Medical Executive at the MDCH. “Carbon monoxide is difficult to detect so it’s important to evacuate the area of contamination immediately and seek medical attention if you suspect you have been exposed to carbon monoxide.”
Never use generators, grills, camp stoves, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning devices inside your home, basement, garage or near a window because these appliances give off carbon monoxide. Running a car in an enclosed garage can create lethal levels of carbon monoxide in minutes.
Michigan’s carbon monoxide poisoning tracking system counted 22 unintentional deaths and 765 non-fatal unintentional carbon monoxide poisonings in Michigan in 2012 alone, the most recent year of complete data. More than 60 percent occurred during the winter months and happened most frequently at home.
Michigan’s December 2013 ice storm, which caused power outages in about 400,000 Michigan households, resulted in one carbon monoxide death and 300 percent increase in emergency department visits for carbon monoxide poisoning. Proper use and placement of alternate power sources would have prevented many of these poisonings.
For more information about carbon monoxide poisoning and poisoning prevention, visit www.michigan.gov/carbonmonoxide.