As we turn back the clocks on Sunday and temperatures continue to fall, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) wants to remind residents to take steps to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. “As temperatures drop, we start getting increased reports about carbon monoxide poisonings,” said Nick Lyon, MDHHS director. “Now is the time for Michigan residents to make sure their heating sources and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order.” Each year in Michigan about 29 people die and 145 are hospitalized due to carbon monoxide poisoning. To protect yourself and your family from carbon monoxide, follow these safety tips:
- Make sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors. Detectors can be purchased at most hardware stores for $20-50. Daylight Savings Time is a good time each year to replace the batteries and push the “test” button to be sure it’s working properly. Replace detectors every five years or according to manufacturer’s instructions.
- Have your furnace or wood-burning stove inspected annually. Hire a professional to make sure it is functionally sound and vents properly outside the home.
- Never run a gasoline or propane heater or a grill (gas or charcoal) inside your home or garage. Any heating system that burns fuel produces carbon monoxide. Use a battery-powered detector where you have fuel burning devices but no electric outlets, such as in tents, cabins and RVs.
- Generators should be run at a safe distance (at least 20 feet) from the home. Never run a generator in the home or garage, or right next to windows or doors.
- Never run a car in an enclosed space. Even with a door or window open, carbon monoxide levels can still build up to an unsafe level. At high levels, carbon monoxide can cause death within minutes. Symptoms of overexposure to carbon monoxide include headache, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea and confusion. If you think you may be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, or your detector sounds an alarm, go outside immediately for fresh air and call 911.