Prepare to ‘fall back’ by checking home carbon monoxide detectors

FRANKFORT, Ky. (November 1, 2019) – As we turn back the clocks on November 3 and temperatures continue to fall, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and the Kentucky Department for Public Health would like to remind residents to take action to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

“To prepare for colder weather, Kentuckians should make sure their heat sources and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order,” said Dr. Angela Dearinger, Commissioner for Kentucky’s Department for Public Health.  

On average, carbon monoxide poisoning sends about 217 people per year to the emergency room in Kentucky, according to data from the 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 homeowners with gas appliances are required to have carbon monoxide detectors. If you have a new home with all electric appliances, a detector is not needed unless the home has an attached garage. Detectors can be purchased at most hardware and big box stores. Daylight Saving Time is a good time each year to replace the batteries in your detector and push the “Test” button to ensure it’s working properly. Replace your detector every five years or according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • 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 25 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.  If a vehicle is running, you must have a door open to the outside.

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.

For more information about cold weather safety, visit the Kentucky Health Alerts website.

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