Did you know more than 150 people in the Unites States die every year from accidental non fire-related CO poisoning associated with consumer products, including generators? Other products include faulty, improperly-used or incorrectly-vented fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, stoves, water heaters and fireplaces.

November 5th-12th is National CO Poisoning Awareness Week.

What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide, also known as CO, is called the “Invisible Killer” because it’s a colorless, odorless poisonous gas which is undetectable to the human senses.

Know the symptoms of CO poisoning

Because CO is odorless, colorless, and otherwise undetectable to the human senses, people may not know that they are being exposed. The initial symptoms of low to moderate CO poisoning are similar to the flu (but without the fever). They include:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • High level CO poisoning results in progressively more severe symptoms, including:
    • Mental confusion
    • Vomiting
    • Loss of muscular coordination
    • Loss of consciousness
    • Ultimately death

What can you do to protect your family from the dangers of CO?

Install and maintain CO alarms inside your home to provide early warning of CO.

Install CO alarms in a central location outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of your home.

Make sure you have carbon monoxide alarms in your home and test them monthly.

Use portable generators outdoors in well-ventilated areas away from all doors, windows, and vents.

Do not use a generator in a wet area. This can cause shock or electrocution.

Make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace are clear of snow and other debris.

Connect appliances to the generator with heavy-duty extension cords.

Do not fuel your generator when it is running. Spilling gas on a hot engine can cause a fire.

Source: Consumer Product Safety Commission

Source: https://www.usfa.fema.gov/prevention/outreach/carbon_monoxide.html

 

October is Fire Prevention Month

Following these simple tips could potentially save your life or the life of a loved one. Pass this list on to your friends and family and make this fire prevention month count!

Did you know that the U.S. Fire Administration reports that fires kill more than 4,000 Americans each year and approximately injure 20,000 more? U.S. fire departments respond to nearly 2 million fires each year, with three-quarters of them occurring in residences.

A home is often referred to as a safe haven. This month, make sure your home is protected from (and your family is prepared for) a fire. Here are 10 simple tips to help you avoid fires and reduce the risk of injury should one occur:

1)     Smoke Alarms – These are still a very important addition to your home. Smoke alarms are widely available and inexpensive. Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home and test it monthly. It’s recommended that batteries are replace annually. Since October is fire prevention month, October is a good month to replace your smoke alarm batteries.

2)     Prevent Electrical Fires – Don’t overload circuits or extension cords. Cords and wires should never be placed under rugs or in high traffic areas. Avoid loose electrical connections by checking the fit of the plug in the wall outlet. If the plug loosely fits, inspect the outlet right away. A poor connection between the plug and the outlet can cause overheating and can start a fire in minutes.

3)     Keep Plugs Safe – Unplug all appliances when not in use. Follow the manufacturer’s safety precautions and use your senses to spot any potential disasters. If a plug is overheating, smells strange, shorts out or sparks – the appliance should be shut off immediately, then replaced or repaired.

4)     Alternate Heaters – Make sure there is ample space around any portable heating unit. Anything that could catch fire should be at least three feet away. Inspect your chimney annually and use fire screens to help keep any fires in the fireplace.

5)     Fire Safety Sprinklers – When combined with working smoke alarms, home fire sprinklers greatly increase your chance of surviving a fire. Sprinklers are affordable and they can increase property value and lower insurance rates.

6)     Develop An Escape Route – Practice your escape plan with your family from every room in the house. Practice staying low to the floor and checking for hot doors using the back of your hand. It’s just like a routine school fire drill – but in your home.

7)     Position Appliances Carefully – Try to keep TV sets, kitchen and other appliances away from windows with curtains. If there is a wiring problem, curtains can spread a fire quickly. Additionally, keeping your appliances away from water sources (like rain coming in from windows) can help prevent wiring damage which can lead to a fire.

8)     Clean Dryer Vents – Clothes dryers often start fires in residential areas. Clean the lint filter every time you start a load of clothes to dry or after the drying cycle is complete. Make sure your exhaust duct is made of metal tubing and not plastic or foil. Clean the exhaust duct with a good quality dryer vent brush to prevent blockage & check for lint build up behind the dryer at least twice a year.

9)     Be Careful Around the Holidays – If you fill your home with lights during the holiday season, keep them away from anything that can easily catch fire. Check all of your lights prior to stringing them up and dispose of anything with frayed or exposed wires.

10)   Do not store flammable liquids such as paint near heating units.

11)   Keep flammable objects such as dish towels, curtains and aprons away from stoves and don’t wear loose fitting clothing while cooking.

12)   If a pan catches fire, cover it with a lid and turn off the heat.

13)  Have your wood burning fireplace inspected, cleaned, and repaired to prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.

14)   Conduct Regular Inspections – Check all of your electronic equipment and wiring at least once a month. Taking a little time to do this each month can really pay off.

You’ve heard the old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This especially applies to your home. If you set up a regular schedule of preventative home maintenance, it can help prevent expensive repair problems and keep your home in good shape.

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