Prepare to "Fall Back" by Checking Home Detectors
Properly working home heating systems and carbon monoxide detectors save lives
As we prepare to turn back the clocks this weekend, and temperatures continue to fall, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) wants to remind residents to take action to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. We “fall back” an hour on November 4, and when you turn back your clocks, it’s also a good practice to check both your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
“When the temperature drops, we begin to see an uptick in carbon monoxide poisonings,” said Dr. Jon Meiman, Chief Medical Officer. “To prepare for winter weather, Wisconsin residents should make sure their heat sources and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order.”
On average, carbon monoxide poisoning sends about 500 people per year to the emergency room in Wisconsin, according to data from the Wisconsin Environmental Public Health Tracking Program. These trips to the ER for carbon monoxide poisoning are preventable when people are prepared.
To protect yourself and your family from carbon monoxide, follow these safety tips:
- Make sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors. All homes and duplexes in Wisconsin are required to have detectors on every level, including the basement, but not the attic or storage areas. Detectors can be purchased at most hardware and big box stores. Daylight Savings Time is a good time each year to replace the batteries in your detector and push the “Test” button to be sure it’s working properly. Replace your detector every five years or according to manufacturer’s instructions.
- 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 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. 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.
- Generators should be run at a safe distance (at least 20 feet) from the home. Never run a generator in the home or garage, or right next to windows or doors.
- Never run a car in an enclosed space. Even with a door or window open, carbon monoxide levels can still build up to an unsafe level.
At high levels, carbon monoxide can cause death within minutes. Symptoms of overexposure to carbon monoxide include headache, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea, and confusion. If you suspect you may be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, or your detector sounds an alarm, head outside immediately for fresh air, and call 911.