Two women are reported to have died from carbon monoxide poisoning recently in Chicago, according to the Chicago Tribune. The newspaper reports that a faulty boiler is suspected. Elsewhere, in Oxford, Conn., a man reportedly died due to high levels of carbon monoxide (CO) found in a home where he was housesitting. The dogs in the house died, too. (Connecticut Post, 1/30/13).
These reported deaths are just two of the regular, tragic reminders we see that carbon monoxide is a killer. In fact, CO is called the “invisible killer,” because you can’t see, smell or taste it. Don’t let this happen to you.
The best way to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in your home is to:
- Have fuel-burning home heating appliances – your furnace, chimney, water heater, etc. – checked by a professional every year to make sure they are working properly.
- Install carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home and outside bedroom areas.
- If you use a generator when the power goes out, keep it outside, far from windows and doors. Do NOT use a generator in your garage.
Carbon-monoxide deaths are more common than you might think. According to a new CPSC report:
- There were an average of 169 unintentional, non-fire CO poisoning deaths each year between 2007 and 2009.
- 1/3 of the deaths were associated with carbon monoxide from heating systems, such as furnaces.
- More than 40% of carbon-monoxide deaths are from using generators, such as operating them in a garage or basement, which is extremely dangerous.
- Most CO deaths occur in the colder months of the year: November, December, January and February.
In addition to carbon monoxide risks, space heaters also need to be handled with extra care to prevent unintentional fires. Space heaters are associated with an average of 100 deaths each year between 2008 and 2010.
- When you use a space heater, follow these safety tips:
- Turn the space heater off when you go to sleep or leave the room.
- Keep the space heater at least three feet away from anything that can burn, including curtains and furniture.
Have working smoke alarms on every level of your home, outside bedroom areas and inside each bedroom.
Look for additional life-saving information in CPSC’s Carbon Monoxide Information Center.