State fire marshal warns of carbon monoxide poisoning dangers
monoxide is a silent killer; poisoning cases increase during winter
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[February 07, 2014]
SPRINGFIELD — Due to extremely
low temperatures and winter storms in the Midwest this winter, the
Illinois Office of the State Fire Marshal is stepping up its efforts
to raise awareness about fire safety as well as prevention of carbon
monoxide poisoning. The fire marshal is urging homeowners to be
aware of the dangers that carbon monoxide poses.
"We urge residents to be proactive and check batteries on the carbon
monoxide detectors to make sure they will work when needed," said
State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis. "Don't let that silent killer
take the lives of your loved ones. CO alarms save lives."
Matkaitis noted that the Illinois Carbon Monoxide Detector Act,
adopted in 2007, requires the installation of carbon monoxide alarms
in every dwelling unit, with at least one working CO alarm within 15
feet of every room used for sleeping purposes.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless and invisible gas that
can be deadly when high levels are inhaled. The noxious gas is
produced due to faulty or poorly repaired appliances such as
furnaces, boilers, water heaters, gas heaters and dryers. Dirty and
poorly maintained wood fireplaces, blocked chimneys, and gas space
heaters can also produce carbon monoxide poisoning, especially if
ventilation is not adequate. A vehicle with the engine running in a
closed garage can cause lethal levels of CO gas within minutes.
The effects of carbon monoxide poisoning are immediately
observable. Common symptoms of CO poisoning are headaches, nausea,
difficulty breathing, loss of balance, vision problems and
dizziness. High levels of CO can lead to disorientation, memory
problems, loss of consciousness and death.
The OSFM provides the following tips to prevent CO poisoning:
Have your home
heating systems, including chimneys and vents, inspected and
serviced annually by a trained service technician.
Never use portable
generators inside homes or garages, even if doors and windows
appliances in good working order, and use them safely. Make sure
all servicing is carried out by fully qualified and registered
Do not use gas
ranges or ovens for heating.
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Keep air vents
open and unobstructed. Make sure all rooms are well-ventilated.
Chimneys and flues
should be cleaned thoroughly at least once a year.
Never bring a
charcoal grill into the house for heating or cooking. Do not
barbecue in the garage.
Open the fireplace
damper before lighting a fire and keep it open until the ashes
are cool. An open damper may help prevent buildup of poisonous
gases inside the home.
battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms or CO alarms with
battery backup on each level of your home if you have an
attached garage, or if your home has fuel-burning appliances.
Know the symptoms
of carbon monoxide poisoning: headache, dizziness, weakness,
nausea, vomiting, sleepiness and confusion.
If carbon monoxide poisoning is
suspected, get outside to fresh air immediately and then call
For more information about
CO poisoning prevention, visit the OSFM website at:
Office of the State Fire
received from the
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]