Before winter cold sets in, it pays to make sure that your gas heating system and appliances are working safely. Two main dangers of defective systems are carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and fires.

In Penfield, New York, a 54-year-old man died of CO poisoning one November. Prior to his death, the home’s CO alarms reportedly beeped and were removed from the house.

It’s called the ‘invisible killer’ and any fuel-burning appliance like furnaces and fireplaces are a potential carbon monoxide (CO) source.  In fact, accidental CO deaths have become an unwelcome but increasing trend.

Play it safe because the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates in recent years an average of 33,000 fires and 180 fire deaths are related to home heating.

  • Schedule your yearly professional inspection of your fuel-burning systems including furnaces, gas dryers and water heaters.
  • Fireplaces and chimneys need to be inspected for leakage and blockage from creosote or debris every year.  (Before we put on the cap, we had swifts building bird nests in our chimney!)
  • Avoid use of portable propane space heaters indoors, unless designed specifically for indoor use. Always follow the manufacturer’s directions for proper use.
  • Never use your kitchen gas stove to heat your home.  They are not intended for that purpose and can pose a CO or fire hazard.

The US Fire Administration warns home fires spike in winter months.  This is the season when home heating and cooking are the leading cause of home fires.

Your risk increases by supplementing with space heaters, so be extra careful.

  • Never use a space heater when you go to sleep, or place it close to any sleeping person.
  • Keep the kids and pets away from space heaters.
  • Keep the heater at least three (3) feet away from furniture, rugs/carpet, bedding, drapes and other burnable items. Place it on a fire-proof mat.

Give yourself valuable escape time by making sure that you have working smoke and CO alarms. It’s an important line of home defense for your family and pets.  Besides, it will protect your indoor air quality!

How many CO alarms do you have and where are they located?

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Sustainable House January 26, 2012 at 2:12 am

We should do more to protect our family from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning.

Another CO poisoning case to be added:
“Another case involved a family experiencing flu-like symptoms over several weeks. A week prior to the emergency call, the daughter suffered convulsions and seizures, often symptoms of CO poisoning. At 3 a.m. the father woke extremely ill. He tried arousing other members of the family without success. Completely disoriented and passing in and out of consciousness he searched for a phone. Two hours later he managed to dial 911 before again passing out. Emergency workers found him collapsed over the phone. The entire family received treatment at a local emergency room.”

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