As March in Michigan starts with more wintry weather, Consumers Energy is encouraging residents to take steps to protect themselves against the lethal threat of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
“Every household should know the dangers of carbon monoxide, especially at any time of year when people are running furnaces or heating their homes with fireplaces or other devices,” said Aaron Kantor, Consumers Energy’s director of emergency management and public safety.
“Make sure your home has at least one working smoke and carbon monoxide alarm on each floor, and know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. We don’t want this ‘silent killer’ to claim another life.”
Carbon monoxide is produced when appliances and consumer products are improperly operating or are not vented properly, including furnaces, boilers, water heaters, ovens, fireplaces, portable heaters, generators and vehicles.
Incomplete combustion of fuels including oil, wood, natural gas, kerosene, gasoline, charcoal and diesel fuel can also cause deadly amounts of carbon monoxide to form.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are sometimes hard to diagnose because they mimic the flu, but include headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath and stinging or burning of the eyes. Prolonged exposure can cause disorientation, convulsions, loss of consciousness and even death.
Kantor offered tips to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning:
Never use a generator in a basement, enclosed garage, breezeway, or near air intakes. Make sure generators have been connected by a licensed electrician and are operated only where there is adequate ventilation.
Install an audible carbon monoxide detector that meets or exceeds Underwriters Laboratory standards and will alarm if dangerous levels of carbon monoxide are created in a home or building.
Inspect your furnace annually and have it tuned up by a qualified service professional. Change furnace air filters at least once every other month (more if pets are present) during the heating season.
Perform a visual inspection of the chimney and vent pipes to make sure they are free of obstructions such as leaves and nests. Clean them out if necessary.
Never use gas stoves or charcoal grills to heat homes. These appliances can produce deadly amounts of carbon monoxide when used improperly.
Never leave a supplemental heater or fireplace unattended. Keep clothing, papers and other flammable items well away from gas appliances and supplemental heaters.
Never leave snow blowers, power lawn equipment or generators running in an enclosed area like a garage. Cars should also never be left running in a garage.
If you suspect there is a carbon monoxide problem in your home, evacuate all people and pets immediately, move to fresh air and call 9-1-1.
For more natural gas and electric safety information, go to www.ConsumersEnergy.com/safety.
Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest utility, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and electricity to 6.7 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
VIDEO: Carbon monoxide safety tips:
Media Contacts: Debra Dodd, 586-918-0597, or Brian Wheeler, 517-788-2394
For more information about Consumers Energy, go to www.ConsumersEnergy.com.