Beth Kaplan, Department of Health Services, (608) 267-3810
Brock Bergey, Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection
OFFICIALS WARN ABOUT CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING DURING WINTER
MADISON – State officials are urging people to prevent carbon
monoxide poisoning by taking steps both inside the home and during hunting
trips this winter, the time of year when nearly half of all accidental
carbon monoxide (CO) deaths occur.
Carbon Monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can be generated by
improper ventilation of furnaces, gasoline-powered tools, heaters, car
exhaust systems and wood-burning stoves. Breathing the gas displaces the
oxygen in the blood and can cause death in minutes at high levels.
Symptoms are flu-like and include headache, fatigue, dizziness, shortness
of breath, nausea and mental confusion.
People may be familiar with the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning in
the home, but may not realize that products used by hunters and outdoors
enthusiasts can also create dangerous CO levels. Consumers should never
use portable generators, propane or kerosene heaters, unvented furnaces,
charcoal or gas grills in an enclosed area – this includes tents, ice
fishing shanties, trailers, cabins, RVs, garages and homes.
“Some models of portable heaters have what is called an oxygen
depletion sensor, or ODS,” said Janet Jenkins, Administrator of the
Division of Trade and Consumer Protection at the Department of
Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. “This sensor is designed to
detect the absence of oxygen and automatically shut off an unvented
heater. However, consumers should never rely on this safety feature alone.”
“One of the best defenses against CO poisoning in the home and for
hunters is a CO detector,” said State Health Officer Henry Anderson,
M.D. “These work like smoke alarms to alert you to dangerously high CO
levels. Hunters should bring a battery-powered portable CO detector any
time they use gas and oil burning appliances away from home. Homeowners
should install them on every level of the home and near sleeping areas.”
“Never ignore a CO detector’s alarm because it could save your
life,” Anderson said. If an alarm sounds or anyone in the house or
hunting cabin has symptoms, he advises getting fresh air immediately and
calling 911 from a neighbor’s house or using a cell phone outside the
“Consumers need to use and maintain CO detectors based on the
manufacturers’ recommendations” added Jenkins. “They should be
tested every 30 days – keeping in mind most CO detectors average a
five-year life span.”
For more information contact your local health department or visit http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/eh/Air/.
Product safety inquiries should be directed to the Bureau of Consumer
Protection by calling toll-free, 1-800-422-7128. To check for recent
recalls on portable generators, heaters, grills and CO detectors visit the
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website, http://www.cpsc.gov/.
Last Revised: December 06, 2010