Governor Declares Carbon Monoxide Safety And Awareness Week; Urges Protection Against CO Poisoning

JACKSON, Mich., Nov. 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Falling temperatures signal to Michigan residents that heating season has arrived, and with it comes an increased risk of carbon monoxide dangers.

That's why Gov. Rick Snyder has joined with Consumers Energy and declared Oct. 28Nov. 3 "Michigan Carbon Monoxide Safety and Awareness Week."

Consumers Energy reminds home and business owners to take preventive measures now that will provide protection against carbon monoxide (CO), a toxic gas that is colorless, odorless and tasteless and can be produced when appliances aren't operating or venting properly.

"The majority of carbon monoxide poisonings occur during the fall and winter heating season," said Zach DeFrain, Consumers Energy program manager.  "As one of Michigan's largest utility providers, our goal is to ensure Michigan residents have factual information about carbon monoxide poisoning so they can take steps to protect themselves and their families from this invisible killer," DeFrain said.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is caused by the incomplete combustion of fuels including oil, propane, natural gas, coal, wood, kerosene, gasoline, diesel fuel and charcoal. Deadly amounts of carbon monoxide can be produced by defective or poorly vented appliances that use these fuels such as furnaces, fireplaces and wood stoves, as well as generators and vehicles. The American Medical Association reports that CO contributes to more than 2,000 poisoning deaths every year in the United States.

Exposure to CO poisoning can trigger symptoms that appear flu-like, including fatigue, headaches and general sick feeling, sometimes accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Other possible symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include dizziness, shortness of breath, and stinging or burning of the eyes.  Prolonged exposure to CO can cause disorientation, convulsions, unconsciousness and ultimately death.  

The best defense against CO problems is an audible carbon monoxide detector that meets or exceeds Underwriters Laboratory standards and will sound if dangerous levels of carbon monoxide are present in a home or building. 

"There's no doubt that the most important way to protect against CO poisoning is by installing an audible CO alarm.  Theses devices are every bit as important to have in residences and other buildings as smoke detectors," DeFrain added.

Underwriters Laboratory and manufacturers also recommend that any detector be replaced when its warranty expires.

Another good way to protect against carbon monoxide poisoning is to make sure all fuel-burning appliances are properly installed and maintained. Furnaces should be cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified technician. Finally, venting on furnaces, water heaters and chimneys should be inspected periodically to be sure that animal nests or other debris do not interfere with proper ventilation. 

Consumers Energy, the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), provides natural gas and electricity to 6.8 million of Michigan's 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

For more information on Consumers Energy, please visit our Website at www.consumersenergy.com

For more information about CO, visit: http://www.consumersenergy.com/content.aspx?id=1483

CARBON MONOXIDE (CO) FACTS
  • Carbon monoxide (CO) is known as the silent killer because it is invisible -- odorless, colorless and tasteless. 
  • CO is a toxic gas produced by the incomplete burning of fuels including oil, propane, coal, wood, natural gas, gasoline, diesel fuel, charcoal and kerosene.  Faulty or inadequately vented appliances that use these fuels -- such as furnaces, fireplaces, wood stoves, charcoal grills, kerosene heaters as well as gasoline-powered generators and vehicles -- can produce deadly amounts of CO. 
  • Symptoms of CO often mimic the "flu" and include headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath and stinging or burning of the eyes.  Prolonged exposure can cause disorientation, convulsions, unconsciousness (coma) and eventually death.
  • Infants, the elderly, people with respiratory problems and pets are especially susceptible to CO poisoning.  When CO is breathed into the body, carbon monoxide combines with the blood and prevents it from absorbing oxygen. 
  • Some warning signs of CO can include stale/stuffy air, excessive moisture on windows and walls and soot buildup around appliance vents.
  • CO has a half-life of four hours which means CO can cause damage to someone for many hours after being exposed. 
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) reports levels as low as 30 ppm as causing health problems in much of the population. Many detectors on the market will not warn of levels that low or transitory levels that could be much higher. 

HOW TO PREVENT CO POISONING

  • Make sure fuel-burning appliances are properly installed and have them maintained regularly.  Consumers Energy recommends that furnaces be cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified service person.  Visually inspect chimneys on an annual basis as well. 
  • Keep flues and chimneys clean and free of debris.
  • Repair rusted or pitted flue pipes leading from your furnace and water heater to the chimney.
  • Keep the furnace air intake clear and unobstructed.  If your furnace is housed in a small room, make sure it gets adequate fresh air by installing louvered doors or ventilating grills.
  • Never use a gas range or unvented space heater (propane, gas, oil or kerosene) to heat your home.
  • Never operate a generator in the home, garage, basement or any other enclosed area.
  • Start lawn mowers and snow blowers outside, not inside the garage.
  • Never run your vehicle in the garage, even with the garage door open.
  • Never use a barbecue grill inside your home, on an enclosed porch or in your garage.
  • Install an Underwriters Laboratory (UL) approved CO detector with a powerful audible alarm.  The best models plug into a standard electrical outlet and have important features such as a rechargeable battery backup (in case of a power outage), a digital display of the amount of CO currently present, a memory function that tracks the highest level of CO recorded over a period of time and an end of life feature that alerts the customer when it should be replaced.

SOURCE Consumers Energy



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