Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning – Are you prepared?

Kari Lewis

What has no color, odor, or taste and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), kills over 400 people and sends more than 20,000 Americans to the emergency room every year?  The answer would be carbon monoxide, a ‘silent killer.’  Carbon monoxide is a gas produced any time fuel is burned in vehicles, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, or furnaces.  Carbon monoxide can accumulate indoors and poison people and animals who breathe it.   
Most unintentional carbon monoxide poisonings happen in January, and the second most in December. As we begin another Montana winter, it is important to recognize the causes and signs of CO poisoning. People suffering carbon monoxide poisoning often don’t realize it as the symptoms, which include headaches, dizziness or lightheadedness, and nausea – are common complaints. Carbon monoxide exposure can result in long-lasting brain issues such as learning and memory impairments or death. 
To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, the CDC recommends the following:
·         Install a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector in your home and check the batteries each spring and fall.  The detector should be some place you will hear it if it alarms, such as outside your bedroom.  Detectors should be replaced every five years. 
·         Every year have a qualified technician check your heating systems, water heaters, and other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances.
·         Never use generators, camp stoves, charcoal grills, or any other gas- or oil-burning device inside the home. Never use these devices outside the home near a window.
·         Never run a motor vehicle inside the garage, even if the garage door is open.
·         Never burn anything in a fireplace or stove that is not vented to the outside.
·         Never heat your house with a gas oven.
·         Seek medical attention if you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning is the cause of your dizziness or nausea.

Today’s information was inspired by an article, ‘Carbon Monoxide – the silent killer’ by Barbara Allen, MSU Extension Housing and Environmental Health Program Manager in the MSU Extension Lives and Landscapes magazine.  You can learn more about carbon monoxide and how to prevent exposure to it at the CDC website ( 

I would also like to remind folks that we have some beautiful 2019 Don Greytak calendars available at our office in Cut Bank for just $15.  These calendars feature amazing pencil drawings of 4-H and rural Montana and each calendar also includes 3 raffle tickets for a chance to win a leather-bound collection of Don Greytak calendar covers from the past 30 years.  All proceeds support the Glacier County 4-H Council and the Montana 4-H Foundation.  These make great Christmas gifts, while supporting 4-H!

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