MDHHS and LARA remind Michiganders to check their carbon monoxide detectors

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Posted at 1:43 PM, Nov 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-04 13:43:32-04

LANSING, MI (WXYZ) — As you prepare to turn your clocks back an hour amid daylight saving and crank up the heat as the winter months roll in, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is reminded all Michiganders to check their carbon monoxide detectors.

Carbon monoxide, or CO, is a gas that forms whenever a fossil fuel is burned. And as more people begin to crank up their furnaces, there may be possibilities for CO issues.

You cannot see, taste, or smell CO, but it can be deadly when you breathe it in.

“Taking small steps like making sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector can make a huge difference if you’re unknowingly exposed,” MDHHS chief medical executive Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian said. “Symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure include flu-like symptoms – aches, dizziness, fatigue, and nausea. If you think you have been exposed it is important to get into an area with fresh air immediately and seek medical attention.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that each year, approximately 50,000 people across the country visit the emergency department for accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.

In 2019, the latest year data were available from the MDHHS Michigan Environmental Public Health Tracking Program (MiTracking), there were 1,090 Michigan emergency department visits for carbon monoxide poisoning.

CO is dangerous because it blocks your body from taking in the oxygen it needs. CO can cause serious illness or death in just minutes.

“Carbon monoxide is produced by many items people use daily,” State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer said. “Furnaces, water heaters, dryers, lanterns, space heaters, fireplaces, chimneys and gas stoves all produce this colorless, odorless, tasteless and poisonous gas known as the ‘Invisible Killer’ which requires an electronic sensor to detect. Michigan residents should install an inexpensive CO detector on each level of your home and test them every month with your smoke alarm.”

Safety tips to protect from carbon monoxide:

  • Make sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors. Push the “Test” button to be sure it’s working properly. 
  • Have your furnace or wood-burning stove inspected annually. Hire a professional to make sure it is functionally sound and vents properly outside the home. 
  • Never run a gasoline, kerosene or propane heater or a grill (gas or charcoal) inside your home or in an unventilated garage. Any heating system that burns fuel produces carbon monoxide. 
  • Generators should be run at a safe distance (at least 20 feet) from the home. 
  • Never run a car in an enclosed space. If a vehicle is running, you must have a garage door open to the outside.