Cumberland Times-News

Columns

January 15, 2014

It’s lethal

Don’t fall victim to carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide’s reputation as a “silent killer” was sadly reinforced Tuesday when a Cumberland man died and an Ellerslie man was found in critical condition at a home they were remodeling.

 Both victims were found unconscious when first-responders arrived after a relative of one of the men reportedly arrived at the residence after not being able to make routine contact by phone.

Initial investigation revealed that both men were working on the interior of the residence. A gasoline-powered generator and a kerosene heater were being used inside the residence which caused the carbon monoxide levels to become lethal.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, carbon monoxide is called a silent killer because it is a gas you cannot see, taste, or smell. It can be created when fossil fuels, such as kerosene, gasoline, coal, natural gas, propane, methane or wood do not burn properly.

Among the precautions that can be taken to avoid poisoning are:

• Have fuel-burning heating equipment (fireplaces, furnaces, water heaters, wood stoves, coal stoves, space heaters and portable heaters) and chimneys inspected by a professional every year.

• Open the damper for proper ventilation before using a fireplace.

• Never use your oven or stovetop to heat your home. The CO gas might kill people and pets.

• When purchasing new heating and cooking equipment, select products tested and labeled by a recognized testing laboratory.

• Make sure all fuel-burning vented equipment is vented to the outside to avoid CO poisoning. Keep the venting for exhaust clear and unblocked.

• If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Never run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not blocked with snow, ice or other materials. The CO gas might kill people and pets.

• Make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace are clear of snow and other debris.

• Use portable generators outdoors in well-ventilated areas away from all doors, windows, vents and other building openings to prevent exhaust fumes from entering the home.

Unfortunately, each year in America, more than 150 people die from accidental non-fire related carbon monoxide poisoning. Nearly all of those deaths could have been prevented by following the cautionary safety tips.

 

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