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Carbon monoxide remains a concern in summer

June is National Safety Month. It's also the beginning of summer, and that means the potential for severe weather that may lead to power outages. When the power goes down, homeowners may choose to use alternative power sources such as generators....

June is National Safety Month.

It's also the beginning of summer, and that means the potential for severe weather that may lead to power outages. When the power goes down, homeowners may choose to use alternative power sources such as generators. However, generators must be properly ventilated, and failure to do so can rapidly create a deadly buildup of carbon monoxide in a home or apartment.

Carbon monoxide is odorless, tasteless and invisible and people often mistake symptoms for the flu, a news release stated. If a person is suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, a person will feel confused or dizzy, nauseated, have blurred vision, develop headaches, become sleepy, begin vomiting or feel weakness. The only safe way to detect carbon monoxide is with a working alarm, and experts recommend installing one on each floor and near sleeping areas.

Here are some basic facts about carbon monoxide poisoning:

โ€ข According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning each year; more than 20,000 visit the emergency room and more than 4,000 are hospitalized due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

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โ€ข Carbon monoxide is produced anytime a fuel is burned. When a device malfunctions or doesn't receive proper ventilation, the fumes accumulate. Potential sources include gas or oil furnaces, water heaters, space heaters, clothes dryers, barbecue grills, fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, gas ovens, generators and vehicle exhaust fumes. Most U.S. homes-75 percent-have a potential source of carbon monoxide, yet surveys show only half have a carbon monoxide alarm.

โ€ข Carbon monoxide alarms are available nationwide and start at less than $20. One battery-powered alarm or AC-powered alarm with battery backup should be installed on each level of a home and near sleeping areas. Forty-four out of 50 states-including Minnesota-require carbon monoxide alarms in new homes.

โ€ข Carbon monoxide alarms don't last forever. All alarms must have a built-in warning that tells homeowners when it's time to replace their unit. Testing alarms weekly will help ensure homeowners know that an alarm is operating properly.

โ€ข Alarms with replaceable batteries should have fresh batteries annually.

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