Carbon monoxide (CO) is often referred to as the silent killer because it is odorless and colorless. Montana ranks third among all states in deaths per capita from carbon monoxide poisoning. Across the country, more than 400 people die each year from CO poisoning.
On November 9, two Cascade County residents died when their RV heater malfunctioned.
Steven Tucker, Captain of the Great Falls Fire Rescue, explains: “The number of 911 calls increases in the winter due to the colder temperatures. Heating systems are responsible for over 30% of all deaths from CO poisoning.
Great Falls Fire Rescue recommends installing a CO alarm on each level of your home. While the older ones are the most. Susceptible to CO poisoning, it can affect any age group.
Tucker explains, “If you get dizzy or notice someone else in the house has really pink cheeks — those can be telltale signs of carbon monoxide poisoning.”
Other symptoms include dizziness, headache, chest pain and weakness.
Many parts of central Montana have seen heavy snow throughout November, which Capt. Tucker said can pose a hazard to local residents: “Obviously in the winter we get a lot of snow and that’s going to cover the vent pipes on your house. You should make sure this is clear if we get heavy snow. If your electricity goes out, you don’t want to heat with your gas stove or anything that isn’t designed to be heated. Even if you have propane heaters, they are not intended for indoor use.” Every heating system should be inspected annually by a technician.
The number of deaths related to CO poisoning has declined in recent centuries. However, to keep it that way, it is important to remain vigilant and take action to minimize the risk of tragedy.
From the CDC website:
- Install a battery powered or battery backed up CO alarm in your home. Check or replace the detector’s battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. Place your detector where it will wake you up when it sounds an alarm, e.g. B. outside your bedroom. Consider buying a detector with a digital display. In addition to alerting you, this detector can show you the highest CO concentration in your house. Replace your CO alarm every five years.
- Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil or coal appliance serviced by a qualified technician every year.
- Do not use portable flameless chemical heaters indoors.
- If you smell an odor coming from your gas fridge, call an expert. An odor coming from your gas fridge may mean that CO could be leaking.
- When buying gas appliances, only buy appliances that bear the seal of a national testing agency such as Underwriters’ Laboratories.
- Make sure your gas appliances are properly vented. Horizontal ventilation pipes for equipment such as B. Water heaters should rise slightly as shown below when going outdoors. This will prevent CO from escaping if the connections or pipes are not tight.
- Have your chimney checked or cleaned every year. Chimneys can become clogged with debris. This can cause CO to build up in your home or cabin.
- Never patch a breather tube with tape, rubber, or anything else. This type of patch can cause CO to build up in your home, cabin, or RV.
- Never use a gas stove or oven for heating. Using a gas stove or oven for heating can lead to a build-up of CO in your home, cabin or RV.
- Never burn charcoal indoors. When charcoal – red, grey, black or white – is burned, CO is released.
- Never use a portable gas camping stove indoors. Using a gas camping stove indoors can cause CO to build up in your home, cabin or RV.
- Never use a generator in your home, basement, or garage, or within 20 feet of any window, door, or vent.
- If you use a generator, use a battery-powered or battery-backed CO alarm in your home.