TOPEKA -- With colder weather moving in this week, now comes an increase in the number of fuel-burning appliances being used in the home. These appliances include furnaces, ovens, space heaters, generators, indoor grills and fireplaces, and they can cause dangerous levels of carbon monoxide (CO) to build up in the home.
“Most families understand the importance of having working smoke alarms in every sleeping area of their home, but not always feel the same about carbon monoxide alarms,” says Cherie Sage, State Director of Safe Kids Kansas. “Carbon monoxide is so dangerous because it is odorless, colorless, tasteless and it can kill. CO can make a child seriously ill in small doses that might not noticeably affect an adult.”
According to a study from 2004 to 2006, children younger than five years old have the highest estimated rate of CO-related visits to the emergency room each year among all age groups in the U.S. Nationally, more than 25 kids die from CO poisoning every year.
Important safety tips to protect families from CO poisoning:
Prevent CO buildup in the first place - make sure heating appliances are in good working order and used only in well-ventilated areas.
Don’t run a car engine in the garage, even with the garage doors open. If you need to warm up your vehicle, move it outside first.
Install a CO alarm outside every sleeping area, on every level of your home and at least 15 feet away from every fuel-burning appliance.
When you check your smoke alarm batteries each month, check the batteries on your CO alarms at the same time – and replace the batteries twice a year.
Never use an oven for heating living spaces.
Portable generators must be used outside for proper ventilation. They cannot be used indoors or inside of a garage.
Have all gas, oil or coal burning appliances inspected by a technician every year to ensure they’re working correctly and are properly ventilated.
If more than one person in the home suddenly feels ill for no apparent reason, or if a CO alarm goes off, get everyone outside immediately and call 911 from a pre-arranged meeting place.
“CO alarms are available at hardware stores for about $20,” adds Sage. “That is a small price to pay to help detect odorless, poisonous gases in the home before it’s too late.”
For more information about CO poisoning, visit www.safekids.org and www.safekidskansas.org, or call the Poison Control Hotline at (800) 222-1222.
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