October 30, 2013
Jennifer Miller, 608-266-1683

Prepare to "Fall Back" By Checking Home Detectors and Packing an Emergency Kit

Daylight Saving Time Ends November 3 at 2 a.m.

MADISON-With temperatures dropping and Daylight Saving Time ending soon, Wisconsin Department of Health Services and ReadyWisconsin officials are urging residents to make sure their home's smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order, and an emergency kit is ready in the event of weather emergencies.

"When we set the clocks back this year, it's the perfect time to check our home devices that protect us and our families from fires and carbon monoxide poisoning, and to prepare for winter weather," said Dr. Henry Anderson, State Health Officer.

Smoke Detectors: Check and replace batteries if needed and make sure the devices around your house are working properly. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission estimates that about 16 million homes in the country have smoke alarms that do not work, due in most cases to dead or missing batteries. Nearly 2,700 people die and more than 15,000 are injured each year because of fires that started in their homes.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detectors: Carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 20,000 people visit the emergency room and nearly 500 are killed each year from carbon monoxide poisoning.

To protect your family from carbon monoxide, follow these simple safety tips:

  • Make sure you have working CO detectors. All homes and duplexes in Wisconsin are required to have CO detectors on every level including the basement, but not the attic or storage areas.
  • Have your furnace or wood-burning stove inspected annually to make sure it is structurally and functionally sound and vents properly to the outside of your home.
  • Never run a gasoline or propane heater or a grill (gas or charcoal) inside your home or an unventilated garage. Any heating system that burns fuel will produce carbon monoxide. Use a battery-powered detector where you have fuel burning devices but no electric outlets, such as in tents, cabins, RVs, and boats with enclosed cabins.
  • Never run a car in an enclosed space. If a vehicle is running, you must have a door open to the outside.
  • Generators should be run a safe distance from the home. Never run a generator in the home or garage, or right next to windows or doors.

Breathing carbon monoxide displaces the oxygen in the blood and can cause death within minutes at high levels. Symptoms of overexposure to carbon monoxide are often mistaken for the flu and include headaches, fatigue, and dizziness, shortness of breath/chest pain, nausea /vomiting, and confusion. If you suspect you may be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, or your carbon monoxide detector sounds an alarm, head outside immediately for fresh air and call 911.

Emergency Kits: Everyone should have a basic emergency kit in their home with supplies such as food and water to last you and your family at least three days. Other items like a battery powered or crank radio, flashlights and a first aid kit should also be included. If you already have an emergency kit prepared, make sure food and other items are not near or past their expiration dates.

View more information on carbon monoxide poisoning.

View tips on emergency preparedness.

View information on winter weather preparations.