Eric Murray: Silent killer prevented
May 24, 2009
During lunch one day, a friend of mine laid out several newspaper columns he had cut out and saved and placed them on the table in front of me.
“This is what you need to write about in your health care column,” he said. “The information could save lives.”
The headlines, all reporting similar stories that took place in Colorado from late 2008 to early 2009, spoke for themselves: “Family of 4 died in Aspen from carbon monoxide,” “Student dies; gas suspected” and “Carbon monoxide scare at ice arena sends 14 to hospital.”
“It’s odorless, tasteless and invisible,” my friend warned. “People get headaches, nausea, sleeplessness and are basically poisoned over time or all at once if the levels are high enough.”
Jim Cautrell, Fire Marshall of Grand Fire Protection District #1, whose department responds to seven to eight calls per year involving carbon monoxide, confirms the danger.
“It can really sneak up on you,” Cautrell said. “The best protection is to install a carbon monoxide detector on each floor and one near each sleeping area.”
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If the alarm does go off, Cuatrell advises opening windows and doors and evacuating the home quickly. Then dial 911 from outside the home and explain that your carbon monoxide alarm went off. The fire department will check for levels and try to find possible sources of the emissions.
Cautrell also recommends the following:
– Buy a CO2 detector that plugs in and has a battery back-up
– Install one detector on every level and near all sleeping areas
– Check the batteries every time you change the batteries on your clocks
– Test the alarm every month
– Have furnaces, stoves or anything that runs on natural gas or propane checked for proper ventilation by a service professional on a regular basis.