Properly Working Home Heating Devices and Carbon Monoxide Detectors Save Lives
BROWN COUNTY, Wis. — As temperatures continue to drop and Daylight Savings Time comes to an end this weekend, Brown County Public Health, the Green Bay Metro Fire Department and Bellin Health are reminding residents to take action to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning and ensure fire safety in the home. We “fall back” an hour on November 5. When you turn back your clocks, it’s a good time to put new batteries in your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.
“We tend to see more carbon monoxide poisonings in the cooler months,” said Brown County Public Health Officer Anna Nick. “Now is the time for Brown County residents to make sure their heating sources and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order.”
On average, carbon monoxide poisoning sends about 500 Wisconsinites to the emergency room each year, according to data from the Wisconsin Environmental Public Health Tracking Program. These trips to the ER for carbon monoxide poisoning are preventable when people are prepared.
To protect yourself and your family from carbon monoxide, follow these safety tips:
- Make sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors. All single-family duplexes and homes in Wisconsin are required to have detectors on every level, including the basement, but not the attic or storage areas. Detectors can be purchased at most hardware stores for $20-50. Daylight Savings Time changing is a good time each year to replace the batteries in your detector and push the “Test” button to be sure it’s working properly. Replace your detector every five years or according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Check your smoke alarms. Nearly 60 percent of home fire deaths occur in homes without a working smoke alarm. As we fall back an hour, don’t forget to replace the batteries in smoke alarms and test these devices. Make sure you replace your smoke alarm every 10 years.
- Have your furnace or wood-burning stove inspected annually. Hire a professional to make sure it is functionally sound and vents properly outside the home.
- Never run a gasoline or propane heater or a grill (gas or charcoal) inside your home or garage. Any heating system that burns fuel produces carbon monoxide. Use a battery-powered detector where you have fuel burning devices but no electric outlets, such as in tents, cabins, and RVs.
- Generators should be run at a safe distance (at least 20 feet) from the home. Never run a generator in the home or garage, or right next to windows or doors.
- Never run a car in an enclosed space. Even with a door or window open, carbon monoxide levels can still build up to an unsafe level.
- For those who participate in the hunting and ice fishing seasons: Purchase and maintain a quality heater for these spaces and use a carbon monoxide detector within.
At high levels, carbon monoxide can cause death within minutes. Symptoms of overexposure to carbon monoxide include headache, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea, and confusion. If you think you may be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, or your detector sounds an alarm, head outside immediately for fresh air and call 911.
Visit the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website for more information about carbon monoxide poisoning.