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Colder Temperatures, Heating Season Raise Concerns About Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

With fall in full swing, colder temperatures mean furnaces are heating up homes and businesses….

  • November 19, 2019

With fall in full swing, colder temperatures mean furnaces are heating up homes and businesses.

Utility operator Consumers Energy is therefore raising awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and how to prevent it.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas that occurs when there is incomplete fuel combustion of appliances and consumer products or improper venting.

This includes all fuels such as natural gas, kerosene, oil, gasoline, charcoal and wood. Appliances that could be affected include furnaces, boilers, water heaters, ovens, fireplaces, portable heaters, generators, gas-powered lawn tools and vehicles.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning often mimic the flu and can include headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath and stinging or burning of the eyes.

Prolonged exposure can cause loss of consciousness and even death. High concentrations of carbon monoxide can kill in less than five minutes.

If you experience these symptoms and suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, leave the building immediately, call 9-1-1 for medical attention and stay out of the building until the problem has been corrected.

Other tips for protecting against deadly carbon monoxide poisoning include:

Get appliances serviced. Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, wood or coal-burning appliances inspected by a qualified service professional every year.

Change or clean furnace air filters at least once every month (more if pets are present) during the heating season.

Regularly inspect your chimney and vent pipes to be sure they are free of obstructions like leaves and nests.

During a power outage never use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove or other gasoline, kerosene or charcoal burning device inside your home, basement, garage or near a window. Always place portable generators at least 25 feet from an enclosed area and away from doors, windows and fresh air intakes.

If your garage is attached to your home, do not leave your car or truck idling inside, even if the garage door is open.