Protect your family against this 'silent killer' - WNEM TV 5

Protect your family against this 'silent killer'

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Source: Consumers Energy Source: Consumers Energy

It’s known as a silent killer and knowing the symptoms could save your life.

“Carbon monoxide is odorless, tasteless and colorless, and with colder temperatures on the horizon there is no better time to share important information about carbon monoxide and how to avoid becoming a victim of this ‘silent killer,’ the leading cause of poisoning in the United States,” said Charles Crews, Consumers Energy vice president of gas operations.

According to the Michigan Department of Community Health, more than 820 people were poisoned by carbon monoxide in 2013, including 34 people who died.

The top causes of carbon monoxide poisoning in Michigan are improper use of or faulty furnaces and water heaters, generators and vehicles.

Experts said knowing the symptoms could save your life.

They often mimic the flu and can include headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath and stinging or burning of the eyes.

Here are eight steps to prevent carbon monoxide problems in your home and business:

  • The best defense against carbon monoxide poisoning is to install an audible carbon monoxide alarm that meets or exceeds Underwriters Laboratory standards and will alarm if dangerous levels of carbon monoxide are created.
  • 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.
  • When using generators, be sure they have been connected by a licensed electrician and are only operated where there is adequate ventilation. Never use a generator in a basement, enclosed garage, breezeway or near air intakes.
  • 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.
  • Never use gas stoves or charcoal grills to heat a building. 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. 

If you expect a carbon monoxide leak in your home, evacuate all people and pets and call 911. 

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