Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Now that the weather has turned colder, the heat goes on, and the chance for carbon monoxide poisoning increases.

RAPID CITY, S.D. – An important safety tip to remember as the weather turns colder, and the heat goes on in our homes is about carbon monoxide poisoning. This silent killer often goes undetected, striking victims caught off guard or in their sleep.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas produced by burning gasoline, wood, propane, charcoal or other fuel. Improperly ventilated appliances and engines, particularly in a tightly sealed or enclosed space, may allow carbon monoxide to accumulate to dangerous levels.

When too much carbon monoxide is in the air, your body replaces the oxygen in your red blood cells with carbon monoxide. This can lead to serious tissue damage or even death.

Marc Eyre, director of electric operations at Black Hills Energy, says there are things you can look for. “If you have a pilot light that keeps burning out or if you have a lot of soot or ash near a burner, it can be an indication that you might have carbon monoxide.”

Eyre says the symptoms may begin slowly.

“You will have headache, nausea, flu-like symptoms where you don’t feel very well. But that can quickly escalate if you get higher levels to unconsciousness and death, so it’s important that you have a detector that works in your house.”

If you think you or someone you’re with may have carbon monoxide poisoning, get into fresh air and seek emergency medical care.

Eyre also recommends that you place a carbon monoxide detector outside of each sleeping area in your house and on each level. Read the manufacturer’s recommendation on how to use it. Test the detector once a month and change the batteries out at least twice a year. Replace it at least every 10 years and make sure it is “UL” listed.

“The other thing I’d like to mention is that if you have a backup generator, it could be diesel or gas, not to run that in your basement or in the garage. Make sure it’s outside or in a well-ventilated area.”

Lastly, don’t run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open – as the noxious fumes can potentially enter the house.

Have your heating system or other coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.

Click here for more safety tips.

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