January 13, 2010 Over the years we've had the sad task of reporting area victims who've succumbed to what's known as 'the silent, cold weather killer'—carbon monoxide poisoning.
More than 5,000 people are treated every year in the U.S. for CO poisoning, which also claims lives.
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can kill without warning as families sleep. Many deaths occur as the result of defective or poorly operating home heating devices, something the homeowner may not detect until it's too late. Improper installation, operation or poorly vented heating appliances—including fireplaces and woodstoves—can produce elevated concentrations of CO.
As heating costs rise and winter drags on, it is more important than ever that homeowners take precautions to avoid tragedies caused by CO poisoning.
Experts recommend keeping heating appliances properly maintained and periodically inspected. Never use an outdoor grill or portable generator indoors or any type of fuel burning heater in an enclosed vehicle.
Purchase a CO alarm—a readily available device that's as easy to install and use as a smoke detector. Pack a winter gear kit—including a blanket, hat, gloves, and other emergency items and keep it in your vehicle throughout the season.
Because we've been saddened by reporting stories of CO poisoning deaths in the past, we want to remind our readers that it's paramount to stay safe while keeping warm this winter.