Safety officials recommend home CO detectors

TOPEKA, Kan. – The arrival of colder weather means more homes will be turning up the heat with fuel-burning appliances. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Safe Kids Kansas and the Kansas State Fire Marshal encourage Kansans to install carbon monoxide (CO) detectors outside sleeping areas in your home to protect your family from this odorless and hazardous gas.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children younger than 5 years old have the highest estimated rate of CO-related visits to the emergency room each year among all age groups in the United States. Nationally, more than 25 children die from CO poisoning every year. In Kansas, over 500 people have been hospitalized and four people have died from CO poisoning over the past 10 years.

“Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless,” said Cherie Sage, Safe Kids Kansas. “The symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to those of common winter ailments, like the flu.  Without a CO detector in your home, your family can be poisoned without even realizing it’s happening.” 

Carbon monoxide detectors cost approximately $20 and can be purchased at most hardware and retail stores.

“Carbon monoxide can cause sudden illness or even death,” said Dr. Farah Ahmed, environmental health officer with KDHE. “Having a carbon monoxide detector with a battery backup near where people sleep saves lives.”

Tips to protect your family from CO poisoning:

  • Prevent CO buildup in the first place – make sure heating appliances are in good working order and used only in well-ventilated areas.
  • Don’t run a car engine in the garage, even with the garage doors open. If you need to warm up your vehicle, move it outside first.
  • Install a CO alarm outside every sleeping area, on every level of your home and at least 15 feet away from every fuel-burning appliance.
  • When you check your smoke alarm batteries each month, check the batteries on your CO alarms at the same time – and replace the batteries twice a year.
  • Never use an oven for heating.
  • Portable generators must be used outside for proper ventilation. They cannot be used indoors or inside of a garage.
  • Have all gas, oil or coal-burning appliances inspected by a technician every year to ensure they’re working correctly and are properly ventilated.
  • If more than one person in the home suddenly feels ill for no apparent reason, or if a CO alarm goes off, get everyone outside immediately and call 911 from a pre-arranged meeting place.

“Having a working CO alarm is just as important as having a smoke alarm,” said Doug Jorgensen, Kansas Fire Marshal. “These devices provide the best protection for early detection.”

For more information about CO poisoning, visit www.safekids.org, or call the Poison Control Hotline at 800-222-1222.


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