LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – As the temperatures continue to drop and Michigan prepares to turn back the clocks on November 1 for Daylight Saving Time, Michiganders are urged to take action to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. To help bring attention to this potentially life-threatening issue, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has declared Oct. 26 – Nov. 1, 2020 as Carbon Monoxide Safety Awareness Week.
“Carbon monoxide poisoning can occur almost anywhere and I hope Michiganders take this time to prepare and prevent this life-threatening issue,” said Governor Whitmer. “Awareness about carbon monoxide safety is a top priority, and Michiganders are encouraged to learn about this poisonous gas and ensure homes and appliances are maintained to protect themselves and loved ones against possible poisoning.”
“To prepare for winter weather, Michiganders should make sure their heat sources and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order,” said Orlene Hawks, director of the Dept. of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. “Being aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide and having a working carbon monoxide alarm is essential to keeping your family safe.”
Annually, about 140 people are hospitalized for carbon monoxide poisoning in Michigan and across the United States, thousands are poisoned and at least 430 people die from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. In 2017, the latest year data available from the MDHHS Michigan Environmental Public Health Tracking Program (MiTracking),126 people were hospitalized.
“Working carbon monoxide detectors save lives,” said State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer. “Only 1 in 8 families in the United States have a functioning carbon monoxide detector. Michigan residents should install a detector today to protect our loved ones from the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless and poisonous gas known as the ‘Invisible Killer; it requires an electronic sensor to detect.”
These hospitalizations for carbon monoxide poisoning are preventable when people are prepared.
To protect yourself and your family from carbon monoxide, follow these safety tips:
· Make sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors. Detectors on every level of your home, including the basement, are strongly recommended. Detectors can be purchased at most hardware and big box stores. Daylight Savings Time is a good time each year to replace the batteries in your detector and push the “Test” button to be sure it’s working properly. Replace your detector every five years or according to manufacturer’s instructions. Use a battery-powered detector where you have fuel burning devices but no electric outlets, such as in tents, cabins, RVs and boats with enclosed cabins.
· Have your furnace or wood-burning stove inspected annually. Hire a professional to make sure it is functionally sound and vents properly outside the home.
· Never run a gasoline or propane heater or a grill (gas or charcoal) inside your home or in an unventilated garage. Any heating system that burns fuel produces carbon monoxide.
· Generators should be run at a safe distance (at least 20 feet) from the home. Never run a generator in the home or garage or right next to windows or doors.
· Never run a car in an enclosed space. If a vehicle is running, you must have a door open to the outside.
Symptoms of overexposure to carbon monoxide include headache, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea and confusion. At high levels, carbon monoxide can cause death within minutes. If you suspect you may be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, or your detector sounds an alarm, head outside immediately for fresh air and call 911.
In addition, Michiganders are reminded to install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors on every floor in your home, push the button to test them regularly, change all alarm batteries every 6 months, and replace alarms after 10 years.
Visit Michigan.gov/MiTracking for more information about carbon monoxide poisoning.