Carbon Monoxide Threat Grows in Winter

Carbon Monoxide Detectors and Properly Maintained and Working Home Heating Devices Save Lives

Soon our furnaces, fireplaces, and other heating equipment will be getting a work out, and the Lincoln County Health Department wants to remind residents to take action to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. “To prepare for winter weather, Wisconsin residents should ensure that their source of heat and their carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order,” says Meghan Williams, Environmental Health Specialist, Lincoln County Health Department.

On average, carbon monoxide poisoning sends about 450 people per year to the emergency room in Wisconsin, according to the Wisconsin Environmental Public Health Tracking Program. These trips to the ER are preventable when people are prepared.

About 50% of all CO poisonings occur in the home. Williams also encourages hunters and other campers to invest in a battery-powered CO detector for use in cabins, tents, RVs, or wherever they may be camping.

The following tips will help you and your family stay warm and safe this winter season:

  • Make sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors. CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area. CO alarms are not substitutes for smoke alarms. Know the difference between the sound of smoke alarms and the sound of CO alarms. Both detectors can be purchased at most hardware stores.
  • Have your furnace or wood-burning stove inspected annually. Hire a professional to make sure yours is working properly and vents outside of the home.
  • Never run a car in an enclosed space. If a vehicle 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 or 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. In every situation, prevent exposure and know the symptoms. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include sleepiness, nausea, vomiting, confusion and disorientation. At high levels, carbon monoxide can cause death within minutes. If you suspect you are experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, or your detector sounds an alarm, head outside immediately for fresh air and call 911.

For more information about carbon monoxide, visit: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/air/co.htm

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