Just as you protect your family from the cold when they’re outside during the winter, you should be safeguarding them from carbon monoxide poisoning when they’re inside. “During this time of year, many turn on their heating systems and mistakenly warm their cars in garages, which can be fatal,” said Dr. Erik Dickson, chief physician executive at HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals. The National Safety Council recommends that people install a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector in their homes near bedrooms. “A good rule of thumb is to check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall to ensure its effectiveness,” Dickson added.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer these additional tips
• Have your heating system, water heater, and any other gas- or coal-burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
• Do not use portable flameless chemical heaters indoors.
• Never use a generator inside your home, basement or garage or less than 20 feet from any window, door, or vent; fatal levels of carbon monoxide can be produced in just minutes.
• If you have a chimney, have it checked and cleaned every year, and make sure your fireplace damper is open before lighting a fire and well after the fire is extinguished.
• Make sure your gas appliances are vented properly.
• Never use a gas oven for heating your home.
• Never let your car run idle while in the garage.
• Low to moderate carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms can include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, and dizziness. High poisoning can include mental confusion, vomiting, loss of muscular coordination, and loss of consciousness. If you or a loved one are displaying these symptoms, call 911 immediately.