Protecting Your Family: Preventing CO poisoning in your home

CO poisoning can start as flu-like symptoms
Posted at 5:30 PM, Oct 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-04 17:37:22-04

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — With temperatures dropping into the 30's Friday evening, many may be firing up their furnaces, but it's a good time to remind everyone about CO poisoning.

Only seconds after starting a vehicle, carbon monoxide is detected in a garage and that’s with the door opened.

This CO detector is used by emergency workers to detect CO levels.

When you are exposed to low to moderate levels of CO you might experience flu-like symptoms.

“You just have a general feeling of malaise. You’re not feeling too good, achy, headaches, a little nauseous - vomiting go along with that – you’re very tired,” said Gregory Gill, deputy commissioner, Erie County Emergency Services.

At higher levels, symptoms include mental confusion, loss of muscle control or you could even lose consciousness.

Gill says the first thing you need to do is get outside into the fresh air. Emergency responders will check your levels, then your home will be checked.

“We’ll have a number of pieces of equipment. We will check what their CO level are and sometime the best thing is take them to the hospital to have further evaluation,” remarked Gill.

Gregory Gill, deputy commissioner, Erie County Emergency Services, discusses CO poisoning.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says more than 400 people in the United States die each year from accidental CO poisoning and more than 50,000 end up in the emergency room.

“Things you have to worry about is people that use the stove top to heat the house at times when it’s getting cold or people like me who like to have the car warming up in the garage, but what you’re not thinking about is the fact that the carbon monoxide is coming off the car and can seep into the house over time,” Gill explained.

A faulty furnace can also generate CO in your home.

“A furnace is giving out carbon monoxide. You might feel fine for days, but that carbon monoxide is building up in you up in your blood,” Gill replied.

A carbon monoxide detector is very important and required, by law, in homes. CO is colorless and order less and in the colder months when your windows are closed, you can be exposed to a toxic gas.

Emergency officials say now is a good time to change the batteries in your CO detectors. There are also newer detectors that last ten years without needing to replace the battery.