"We care about the communities we serve, and want people to be knowledgeable, prepared and stay safe whenever appliances are used that can create carbon monoxide."
According the Michigan Department of Community Health, 823 people were unintentionally poisoned by carbon monoxide in 2013, including 34 who died. The top causes of carbon monoxide poisoning in Michigan are improper use of or faulty furnaces and water heaters (22 percent), generators (20 percent) and vehicles (15 percent).
Carbon monoxide is produced when appliances and consumer products are improperly operating or are not vented properly. This includes furnaces, boilers, water heaters, ovens, fireplaces, portable heaters, generators and vehicles. Incomplete combustion of fuels, including oil, wood, natural gas, kerosene, gasoline, charcoal and diesel fuel, can also cause deadly amounts of carbon monoxide to form.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning often mimic the flu and can include headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath and stinging or burning of the eyes. Prolonged exposure can cause disorientation, convulsions, loss of consciousness and even death.
Crews offered eight steps to prevent carbon monoxide problems and ensure homes, businesses, cabins and hunting lodges are safely prepared for the winter heating season:
- The best defense against carbon monoxide poisoning is to install an audible carbon monoxide alarm that meets or exceeds Underwriters Laboratory standards and will alarm if dangerous levels of carbon monoxide are created.
- Inspect your furnace annually and have it tuned up by a qualified service professional.
- Change furnace air filters at least once every other month (more if pets are present) during the heating season.
- Perform a visual inspection of the chimney and vent pipes to make sure they are free of obstructions such as leaves and nests.
- When using generators, be sure they have been connected by a licensed electrician and are only operated where there is adequate ventilation. Never use a generator in a basement, enclosed garage, breezeway or near air intakes.
- Never leave snow blowers, power lawn equipment or generators running in an enclosed area like a garage. Cars should also never be left running in a garage.
- Never use gas stoves or charcoal grills to heat a building. These appliances can produce deadly amounts of carbon monoxide when used improperly.
- Never leave a supplemental heater or fireplace unattended. Keep clothing, papers and other flammable items well away from gas appliances and supplemental heaters.
If you suspect there is a carbon monoxide problem in your home, evacuate all people and pets immediately, move to fresh air and call 9-1-1. For more natural gas and electric safety information, go to www.ConsumersEnergy.com/safety.
Consumers Energy, Michigan's largest utility, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and electricity to 6.7 million of the state's 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
For more information about Consumers Energy, go to www.ConsumersEnergy.com.
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SOURCE Consumers Energy