Recent winter storms have left many Americans without electricity and resorting to the use of alternative equipment and appliances to heat their homes. Operating alternative heating sources can generate carbon monoxide (CO) gas.
CO gas is deadly, even though it is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. There are no warning signs specific to a CO exposure. Even when it is not fatal, CO can cause permanent damage to the brain and other parts of the nervous system. It affects people of all ages, but infants, children and those who are pregnant are even more susceptible.
Potential sources of CO gas are furnaces, water heaters, stoves, ovens, kerosene space heaters, wood and gas fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, portable generators, and automobile engines. If there is a flame, CO is produced.
To prevent CO poisoning and CO related death, poison centers offer the following precautions:
- Never attempt to heat your home by using an oven, clothes dryer, or automobile.
- Generators should only be used outdoors. When used outdoors, generators should be placed at least 20’ from doors, windows, and vents to avoid exposure to people residing indoors.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home. Check or replace the battery regularly.
- Have your home heating system and chimney inspected regularly to ensure proper ventilation.
- Call Poison Help (1-800-222-1222) in an emergency or for more information about preventing an exposure to carbon monoxide.
Four ways to prepare, prevent, and protect against poisoning:
1. Text POISON to 797979 to save the Poison Help Hotline as a contact in your mobile phone.
2. Save the Poison Help Hotline number, 1-800-222-1222, into your mobile phone.
3. Display the Poison Help Hotline contact number throughout your home.
4. Get Info:
- Web: www.aapcc.org
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/AAPCC
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aapcc/
For National Poison Data or Information, Contact:
Yasmine Harding, MS, CHES
Director, Public Education & Communications