Cincinnati--With furnaces and other heat producing devices being
turned on for fall and winter weather in Cincinnati, the University of
Cincinnati (UC) Department of Emergency Medicine and the Center for
Hyperbaric Medicine physicians offer the following simple suggestions
that could save you or your family from carbon monoxide poisoning.
While preparing for the coming cold season, be sure to check these common situations:
- Since carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, installing a carbon monoxide detector could save a life.
for chimney openings to be free and clear. Chimneys are frequently
clogged or blocked by animal nests, debris, or creosote.
operating space heaters should be vented to the outside. Those that
burn gas should have a shut off valve that kicks in when oxygen is
depleted to dangerous levels. Flames should be blue, not yellow.
Trouble signs include soot or rust buildup on burner, excessive
moisture on windows.
- Gas or wood-burning fireplace should have ashes removed regularly and plenty of air should be available for combustion.
refrigerator, stove, hot water heater, and clothes dryer should have
burners checked regularly for soot or carbon deposits at the flue or
the firing unit and check the vent pipes for corrosion and blockage.
Appliances that are not vented to the outside should have automatic
shutoff valve for when oxygen is depleted. Never use a gas stove to
heat a room or apartment.
- Gas or
fuel oil furnace should have blue flame, not yellow. Look for soot or
dirt buildup at burners, flue and registers, and change or clean
filters regularly. Wilting or dying house plants are a sign of trouble.
Laurie Gesell, MD, assistant
professor of emergency medicine, and Director of the Center for
Hyperbaric Medicine at The University Hospital warns, "The symptoms of
carbon monoxide poisoning can be mistaken for flu or a cold symptoms
with headaches, dizziness, weakness, and nausea or vomiting being some
of the most common. Other symptoms include difficulty breathing, chest
tightness, sleepiness, confusion, and passing out. Anyone suffering
from carbon monoxide poisoning should seek emergency medical care