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Gov. Whitmer and LARA remind Michiganders to check carbon monoxide detectors ahead of cold weather

Posted at 2:27 PM, Oct 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-29 14:27:41-04

LANSING, Mich. — With temperatures dropping and Daylight Savings Time to turn back the clocks on Nov. 1, Michiganders are encouraged to take action in preventing carbon monoxide poisoning.

To bring more attention to a potentially life-threatening issue, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has declared Oct. 26 – Nov. 1, 2020 as Carbon Monoxide Safety Awareness Week.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide overexposure can include headache, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea and confusion. High levels of carbon monoxide can cause death within minutes.

If you suspect you may be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, or your detector alarm sounds an alert, immediately get to fresh air by going outside, then call 911.

“Carbon monoxide poisoning can occur almost anywhere and I hope Michiganders take this time to prepare and prevent this life-threatening issue,” said Governor Whitmer. “Awareness about carbon monoxide safety is a top priority, and Michiganders are encouraged to learn about this poisonous gas and ensure homes and appliances are maintained to protect themselves and loved ones against possible poisoning.”

“To prepare for winter weather, Michiganders should make sure their heat sources and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order,” said Orlene Hawks, director of the Dept. of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. “Being aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide and having a working carbon monoxide alarm is essential to keeping your family safe.”

Every year, about 140 people are hospitalized with carbon monoxide poisoning in Michigan. Across the United States, thousands are poisoned and at least 430 people die from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.

In 2017, the latest year data is available from the MDHHS Michigan Environmental Public Health Tracking Program (MiTracking), 126 people were hospitalized.

“Working carbon monoxide detectors save lives,” said State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer. “Only 1 in 8 families in the United States have a functioning carbon monoxide detector. Michigan residents should install a detector today to protect our loved ones from the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless and poisonous gas known as the 'Invisible Killer; it requires an electronic sensor to detect.”

Hospitalizations for carbon monoxide poisoning are preventable so long as people are prepared.

To protect yourself and your family from carbon monoxide, MDHHS recommends following these safety tips:

· Make sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors. Detectors on every level of your home, including the basement, are strongly recommended. 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. 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.

· 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.

· 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. If a vehicle is running, you must have a door open to the outside.

In addition, Michiganders are reminded to install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors on every floor in your home, push the button to test them regularly, change all alarm batteries every 6 months, and replace alarms after 10 years.

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