Avoid CO Poisoning from Heaters
SAYRE (WENY) -- Carbon monoxide is a colorless odorless gas that's emitted by a lot of heating systems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports more than 400 Americans die every year from unintentional CO poisoning.
"It's a silent killer, standing here you can't recognize it," said Sayre Fire Chief, Robert Repasky. "You can't smell it, it's odorless. People don't realize that they're being poisoned."
And that's why Fire Departments like Sayre have tools to monitor levels of gases like Carbon Monoxide when they are called to a home.
It's found in combustion fumes like those emitted by heating systems- powered by gas, wood and fuel. A lot of times, people don't realize they're breathing in deadly poison.
"Unfortunately, they just go into a deep sleep and that's the end of it," says Chief Repasky.
Greater Valley EMS says this is when 911 calls start coming in for Carbon Monoxide poisoning. And around this time of year, some people confuse carbon monoxide poisoning with the flu. They have many of the same symptoms.
"If there are 2 or 3 members of a family, even 2 that have the same- vomiting, nausea, headaches, body aches- kind of symptoms, it tips us off to Carbon Monoxide," said Sonya Bement of Greater Valley EMS.
So what can you do to make sure, you aren't at risk? For starters, you can buy a Carbon Monoxide monitor for anywhere from $20-$50.
"CO detectors will detect any form of gas from the Carbon Monoxide build up that gets into your house," said Max Bernhard of the Horseheads Do It Center.
He explained that the detectors have a very loud and piercing alarm that goes off if Carbon Monoxide is detected. That's when you get out and call 911.
You can also make sure to have your heating system serviced every year and replace the batteries on your CO monitor at least once a year.
Here are some tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how you can prevent CO Poisoning:
- Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
- Do not use portable flameless chemical heaters (catalytic) indoors. Although these heaters don't have a flame, they burn gas and can cause CO to build up inside your home, cabin, or camper.
- If you smell an odor from your gas refrigerator's cooling unit have an expert service it. An odor from the cooling unit of your gas refrigerator can mean you have a defect in the cooling unit. It could also be giving off CO.
- When purchasing gas equipment, buy only equipment carrying the seal of a national testing agency.
- Install a battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall.