As Temperatures Drop, Warnings of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
With the arrival of colder temperatures, and as winter approaches, the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) at St. Johns County Health Department is urging the public to take precautions with gas-powered appliances and charcoal or gas grills to avoid exposure to carbon monoxide (CO).
Carbon monoxide is produced by burning fuels such as gasoline, natural gas, kerosene, charcoal and wood. Inside a home, CO can come from a gas-fueled furnace; gas water heater; gas clothes dryer; gas ranges; kerosene space heaters; portable generators; gas or charcoal grills; fireplaces, or wood stoves. Most exposure incidents happen during the cold winter months, and are mainly due to an increased use of fuel-burning appliances.
Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, tasteless gas and is highly poisonous. Depending on the level of exposure, CO may cause fatigue, weakness, chest pains for those with heart disease, shortness of breath upon exertion, nausea, vomiting, headaches, confusion, lack of coordination, impaired vision, loss of consciousness, and in severe cases, death.
• Have a qualified technician check your heating systems, water heaters and other gas, oil or coal burning appliances every year.
• Do not use camp stoves or burn charcoal or gas grills inside a house, garage, vehicle, tent or fireplace.
• Do not use gas-powered appliances such as ranges, ovens or clothes dryers to heat your home.
• Install battery-operated CO alarms or plug-in CO alarms with battery back-up in your home, according to the manufacturer’s installation instructions. The CO alarms should be certified to the requirements of the latest safety standards for CO alarms (UL 2034, IAS 6-96, or CSA 6.19.01).
• Test your CO alarms frequently to ensure they are working, and replace dead batteries.
• NEVER use a generator indoors, including in homes, garages, basements, crawl spaces, and other enclosed or partially enclosed areas, even with ventilation. Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent CO build-up in the home.
• ALWAYS locate your generator outdoors on a dry surface, away from doors, windows, vents, and air conditioning equipment that could allow CO to come indoors. Follow the instructions that come with your generator.
• Remember that you cannot see or smell CO and portable generators can produce high levels of CO very quickly.
• If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air RIGHT AWAY. DO NOT DELAY.
• If you have a poisoning emergency, call your nearest Florida Poison Information Center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call 9-1-1 immediately.
For additional information about carbon monoxide poisoning, visit http://www.cdc.gov/co/ or contact the Florida Department of Health at St. Johns County Health Department at 904-825-5055.
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