As winter approaches and furnace use increases, Fargo Cass Public Health would like to remind everyone on how to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas that can cause sudden illness and even death. When power outages occur during emergencies such as winter storms, the use of alternative sources of fuel or electricity for heating, cooling, or cooking can cause CO to build up in a home, garage, or camper and poison the people and animals inside.
In the US each year, nearly 500 die while as many as 20,000 visit emergency rooms for exposure primarily from poorly-maintained heating systems or gas stoves and gas-powered generators used for heat or power during storms.
The symptoms and signs of carbon monoxide poisoning are variable and nonspecific. The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and altered mental status.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends the following:
• Do have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
• Do install a battery-operated CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. If the detector sounds leave your home immediately and call 911.
• Do seek prompt medical attention if you suspect CO poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseous.
• Don’t use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, or garage or near a window.
• Don’t run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open.
• Don’t burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t vented.
• Don’t heat your house with a gas oven.
For more information, go to www.cityoffargo.com/health.