Now that winter has officially arrived and overnight lows mean the thermostat is on the heat setting, doctors in the emergency departments at Abrazo Health hospitals say now is a good time to keep cool. mind some home security tips.
Carbon monoxide and radiators are two culprits in home heating emergencies, according to Dr Brian Hess, medical director of emergency services at Abrazo Health hospitals.
In the United States, carbon monoxide poisoning, often caused by poor home heating, sends up to 20,000 people a year to emergency rooms. Installing a carbon monoxide detector can alert you if unsafe levels of gas are in your home, he said. The batteries should be changed twice a year, a good rule of thumb is to replace them at the same time as the batteries in your smoke detectors.
Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs because the gas is invisible and odorless. When you breathe in the fumes, the gas begins to build up in your body and can cause sudden illness or death.
The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.
While everyone is at risk, some are more susceptible than others, such as infants and the elderly. People with heart disease, breathing problems, or anemia are also more susceptible to carbon monoxide disease. Here are some ways to stay safe and warm this winter:
Use good ventilation
Gas stoves, ovens, and kerosene heaters that are not properly ventilated can release carbon monoxide into your home. For example, devices such as water heaters must be vented upward to the exterior of the house. And if you smell an odor coming from a gas appliance, it could be carbon monoxide leaking.
Make safe heating decisions
Only purchase gas-fired equipment that bears the seal of a national testing agency, such as Underwriters’ Laboratories (UL). Here are some tips to keep in mind for heating and cooking:
• Do not use a gas stove or oven to heat your home.
• Charcoal or hibachi grills, lanterns and portable camping stoves are not suitable for indoor use.
• Never use a generator inside your home, basement, garage or carport.
• Make sure the flue and chimney of your fireplace are properly connected, in good working order and that they are not blocked. A blockage can cause carbon monoxide to build up in your home.
• Perform a seasonal check of all gas appliances to make sure they are in good working order.
Remember the car
and truck safety
Never idle your car or truck in the garage with the door closed, and if the garage is attached to the house, do not idle even with the garage door open. It is a good idea to have the exhaust system checked every year to make sure that carbon monoxide does not get into your car.
Suspected of carbon monoxide poisoning?
Carbon monoxide can be fatal without prompt treatment. If you suspect someone may be carbon monoxide poisoned, call 911. You should also open doors and windows to provide fresh air to the area. Turn off all heaters, gas stoves or other fuel-burning appliances and leave the house.