LOGAN — As the cold winter months continue, fire officials are reminding residents about the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. The colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas can cause sickness, asphyxiation, and even death.
Logan City Fire Marshal Craig Humphreys said because you can’t see or smell CO gas, it makes it very dangerous.
“People don’t aren’t really aware of it being there until after it causes them problems,” said Humphreys.
The Utah Department of Health tracks cases of CO poisoning. They report that in 2013, there were 209 emergency room visits and 22 deaths in the state. People 65 and older are among the highest fatalities.
Any appliance that burns fuel like a gas fireplace, gas furnace and gas range, produces CO as a byproduct. Humphreys said as long as those appliances are installed and vented correctly, the CO produced is expelled out of the home or building.
“If there is a problem with the furnace, something isn’t working correctly, or the flue is not placed properly for a hot water heater, then sometimes that CO can leak into the home and basically poison the occupants.”
Residents should inspect their homes after heavy snow storms when snow can cover and obstruct exhaust stacks, vents, and fresh-air intakes.
Humphreys said automobiles also produce a large amount of CO that can seep inside a residence.
“It’s always important that as soon as you start your car, back it out of the garage and into the driveway. We really shouldn’t let our cars idle at all anyway, but it’s important to move that car as soon as it’s started out of the garage, so CO won’t go into the living space of the home.”
Fire officials recommend installing carbon monoxide monitors on each level of a home. Residents should also check and replace the batteries in those monitors every year, at the same time they replace their smoke detector batteries.
The symptoms of CO poisoning are feelings of dizziness, light-headedness and nausea. Humphreys said residents should call 911 and leave their home if they suspect anything.
“We will respond. We take meters out that can detect that CO. We will look through the home with our meters and find out whether there is some CO there or not.”
“If there is, we will make a request for Questar Gas to come out and they can check out the fuel burning appliances, the furnace, the hot water heater and things like that. They will make a determination of where the CO is coming from and then take some corrective action.”
Although everyone is susceptible to CO poisoning, the Utah Department of Health reports unborn babies, infants, the elderly, and people with respiratory problems are particularly at risk.
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