While carbon monoxide poisoning is entirely preventable, more than 400 people in the U.S. die from unintentional exposure every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The winter season is often a prime time for CO poisoning. People begin using their heating systems more and may mistakenly warm their cars in closed spaces like garages,” said Glenn Brown, Roanoke Electric Co-op’s safety coordinator. “CO is an odorless and colorless gas that often goes undetected, so we are encouraging everyone to take extra precautions.”
The National Center for Environmental Health recommends the following preventative measures:
- Check or change the batteries in your CO detector every six months. If you don’t have a battery-powered or battery back-up CO detector, buy one soon.
- Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal-burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
- Keep vents and flues free of debris. Debris can block ventilation lines.
- Never leave the motor running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.
- Never run a motor vehicle, generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine less than 20 feet from an open window, door, or vent where exhaust can vent into an enclosed area.
- Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside a home, tent, or camper.
- Never run a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine inside a basement, garage, or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open.
- If you suspect CO poisoning, call 911 or a health care professional immediately.
For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/features/copoisoning/index.html.