Tips To Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning This Winter
It's known as
the silent killer. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and
tasteless toxic gas produced as a by-product of combustion. Accidental
deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning tend to rise this time of year,
when people turn on their furnaces as the temperature drops.
the Allegheny County Health Department reported 28 cases of carbon
monoxide poisoning. Of those occurrences, 23 were heating-related. How
can you safeguard yourself this winter? Using some common sense and
advance planning can help.
O'Toole, F.A.C.E.P., associate professor pf emergency medicine and
director of the hyperbaric medicine program at UPMC Health System,
offers these suggestions on how to protect you and your family:
leave your car running inside your garage, even if the door is open. If
you are trying to warm up your car, park it outside first.
- Be sure to
check your furnace and other gas-powered utilities before the start of
the winter season. Make sure there are no cracks or leaks in any of
your chimney to be sure it isn't clogged up and have it professionally
cleaned each year so smoke doesn't back up in the home.
- Buy a
carbon monoxide detector and install one on each floor of your home. If
you already have one, remember to replace the batteries to keep it
- If family
members share common symptoms, such as dizziness, nausea, blurred
vision or headache, do not assume it's just the flu. If you suspect it
might be carbon monoxide poisoning, immediately call your local
emergency number or 911 and evacuate your house.
monoxide poisoning is the leading cause of poisonous deaths in the
United States. However, it is preventable if the warning signs are
recognized," Dr. O'Toole said.
manufacturers offer toll-free numbers to learn how to install a carbon
monoxide detector in your home. Local fire or police departments are
also good sources for additional information.
For more information visit the UPMC Web site at www.upmc.edu.
Copyright 1999 Health Resources Publishing