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Protect against carbon monoxide poisoning 


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.

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Be aware of carbon monoxide dangers


 

From the Michigan State Police

 

As temperatures continue to hover around 0 degrees with wind chills at 25 below or colder, citizens are encouraged to be aware of the dangers associated with carbon monoxide poisoning when using alternative heating sources to warm their homes.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless and tasteless gas produced when fossil fuels—such as coal, gasoline, natural gas and oil—are burned. In only minutes, deadly fumes can develop in enclosed spaces. When you breathe carbon monoxide, it enters the bloodstream and cuts off delivery of oxygen to the body’s organs and tissues.

The first symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may be headache, dizziness, confusion, fatigue and nausea. As more of this gas is inhaled, it can cause unconsciousness, brain damage and even death. If you do suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, move yourself, your family and pets to fresh air quickly and immediately call 911.

“Think twice before using a gas stove or gas heater to heat your house or garage,” said Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, Deputy State Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD). “Within minutes, the fumes could overcome you and your family and ultimately cause death.”

Families are encouraged to follow these carbon monoxide poisoning prevention tips:

Never use generators, grills, camp stoves or other gasoline or charcoal burning devices inside of homes, basements, garages, or near a window. These appliances give off carbon monoxide, which can build up quickly in a home.

Follow operating and maintenance instructions for fuel-burning appliances and equipment.

Do not use a cooktop or oven to heat your home as these appliances are not designed for this purpose and may result in carbon monoxide poisonings.

Do not let a vehicle run in an attached garage.

Do not sleep in a room with an un-vented gas or kerosene space heater.

Ensure your home has a battery operated carbon monoxide detector, which can be purchased at local home improvement and retail stores.

Get your furnace checked every year to make sure it isn’t leaking carbon monoxide.

For more information about carbon monoxide poisoning and poisoning prevention, visit

www.michigan.gov/carbonmonoxide or www.cdc.gov/co.

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