MADISON, Wis. — This weekend is a great time to check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors as we “fall back” an hour on Sunday, Nov. 5 as Daylight Saving Time ends.
Last weekend, two adults and their 4- year-old grandchild died of apparent carbon monoxide poisoning in Sawyer County. Officials say carbon monoxide was detected inside the home. The investigation continues; however, problems with a furnace may be to blame.
Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) reports that every year about 500 people are treated at Wisconsin hospital emergency rooms for carbon monoxide poisoning. Health officials say many of these cases could be prevented by having carbon monoxide detectors.
“With colder weather we begin to see an uptick in carbon monoxide poisonings,” said Dr. Jon Meiman, DHS Chief Medical Officer. “As we head into winter, Wisconsin residents should ensure their heat sources and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order.”
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea, and confusion. At high levels, carbon monoxide can cause death within minutes. If you suspect you or someone may be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, or your detector sounds an alarm, go outside immediately for fresh air and call 911.
To protect yourself and your family from carbon monoxide, follow these safety tips:
- Make sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors. All homes and duplexes in Wisconsin are required to have detectors on every level, including the basement, but not the attic or storage areas. Detectors can be purchased at most hardware stores. Daylight Saving 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.
- 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. 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 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.