As we get used to the cooling temperatures and enjoy the last days of fall, the Lincoln County Health Department wants to remind everyone of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, especially those who will be headed to the hunting cabin or to another location where there may not be carbon monoxide detectors.
Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is the most common cause of deadly poisoning. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 450 people die each year and 20,000 experience other injuries because of CO poisoning. Carbon monoxide is often called the “invisible killer” because it is odorless and some of the symptoms are similar to the flu. People can be exposed to CO when charcoal, gas, oil or wood are burned in poorly ventilated areas. “Take the opportunity with daylight savings time to test your CO detectors and make sure they are in good working order,” says Meghan Williams, Environmental Health Specialist for the Lincoln County Health Department.
About 50% of all CO Poisonings occur in the home. Other places include cars, cabins, and tents. No matter where you live, prevent exposure and know the symptoms. Common signs of CO poisoning might include headaches, dizziness, and weakness. CO may also cause sleepiness, nausea, vomiting, confusion, and disorientation. At very high levels, it causes loss of consciousness and death. If you think you may be experiencing CO poisoning, or your detector sounds an alarm, head outside immediately for fresh air and call 911.
Following these tips can help you and your family avoid carbon monoxide poisoning:
- Make sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors. CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. CO alarms are not replacements for smoke alarms. Know the difference between the sound of smoke alarms and the sound of CO alarms.
- Have your furnace or wood-burning stove inspected annually. Hire a professional to make sure it is working properly and vents outside of the home.
- Never run an engine in an enclosed space. If a car, snowmobile, generator or lawn mower is running, you must have a door open to the outside.
- Generators should be run a safe distance from the home. Never run a generator in the home, garage, or right next to windows or doors.
- Put a carbon monoxide detector in your camper, cabin or tent. With hunting season almost here hunters and other campers are encouraged to put a battery powered CO detector in their cabin, tent, RV or wherever they may be sleeping.
- Do not use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal burning device inside your home.
For more information about carbon monoxide, visit: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/air/co.htm.