Editorial - Are you putting yourself at risk to a silent killer?It’s been called a silent killer and it’s been putting many lives at risk in the last few days. It’s the colorless, odorless, tasteless but deadly gas, carbon monoxide (CO). When inhaled, it combines with the blood, preventing proper absorption of oxygen, which can cause illness and even death.
It’s been called a silent killer and it’s been putting many lives at risk in the last few days.
It’s the colorless, odorless, tasteless but deadly gas, carbon monoxide (CO). When inhaled, it combines with the blood, preventing proper absorption of oxygen, which can cause illness and even death.
CenterPoint Energy reported the following close calls in the metro area in just the last couple of days:
February 13 – South Minneapolis Fire Department was called to a seven-unit apartment building that had to be ventilated. One person was taken to a hospital to check for CO levels. A boiler in a mechanical room had been producing dangerous amounts of CO.
February 13 – Eden Prairie Fire Department called CenterPoint Energy to assist at the scene of a house that had to be aerated because of high CO levels. One occupant was taken to a hospital. Further investigation found a next-door townhouse garage had high levels of CO. The occupant stated she had left the car running in the garage for an extended time before leaving for work.
February 12 – A CO call was reported to the Golden Valley Police Department. One person was transported to a hospital for CO symptoms (vomiting and dizziness). A furnace was found to be releasing high levels of CO. Venting for the high-efficient furnace had broken off outside and may have been drawing back in through the furnace intake. A five-inch fresh air vent was bent over and flattened and a furnace filter was completely plugged.
February 12 – A homeowner reported high levels of CO. One person was taken to a hospital for a CO check and released. A defective furnace was discovered.
CenterPoint Energy provided the following safety tips on how you can avoid becoming a victim of carbon monoxide poisoning:
• Physical symptoms of CO exposure can resemble the flu, causing headaches, nausea, fatigue, confusion and dizziness that disappear when a person breathes fresh air.
• CO risks can increase when there is unusually high indoor humidity with persistent heavy condensation on walls and windows and soot or water collecting near a burner or vent.
• Stuffy or stale indoor air can lead to a dangerous build-up of CO levels.
• If you suspect CO exposure, leave the area immediately, taking your pets with you and tell others to do the same. Once you are safely away from the area, call 911 to report the suspected CO incident.
• Treatment for CO exposure is fresh air or oxygen. Severe exposure requires medical attention. Do not return to your home or building until the source of the problem is discovered and corrected.
• To prevent CO build up, purchase a CO detection device with an audible alarm and digital display and install it no more than 10 feet from each sleeping quarter, as required by law.
• Fuel-burning appliances, equipment and combustible engines all produce CO that can reach dangerous levels if improperly operated or maintained. Have the equipment regularly checked by a qualified technician (most manufacturers recommend annual check-ups).
• Never operate an automobile, lawn mower or any combustion engine, barbecue grill or similar equipment in an enclosed area such as your home, garage, tent, fish house, trailer or place of business, even with the door open. Any pollutants in the air from the garage, such as a car engine running, can travel into the structure and CO can accumulate.
• Never leave a fire smoldering in a fireplace.
• Equipment that uses natural gas should produce a clear blue flame. A yellow or orange flame may indicate a qualified technician should check for a potential problem with the equipment. When natural gas equipment is properly operated and maintained, it usually will not produce CO.
• Provide adequate combustion air for all your appliances.
• Be certain fuel-burning equipment properly vents to the outdoors.
• Keep vents, fresh air intakes and chimneys clear of debris or other obstructions and check for vent pipes that have gaps, leaks, spaces or are rusted through.
• Never attempt to heat a room with a natural gas range, oven or clothes dryer.
Remember these tips and the close calls of the last few days. The best way to beat a silent killer is to be informed and prepared.