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As temperatures get colder and the nights longer, Michigan residents are urged to take action to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning by checking to ensure furnaces and carbon monoxide detectors are properly working while turning back the clocks for the end of daylight saving time Sunday, Nov 6.
Carbon monoxide, or CO, is a gas that forms whenever a fossil fuel is burned. CO is known as the "silent killer" as it is a colorless, odorless and tasteless poisonous gas. Most CO poisonings take place at home and are caused by items that are not properly cared for or vented, such as furnaces, water heaters, generators, gas grills, dryers, lanterns, space heaters, fireplaces, chimneys and gas stoves.
“Symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure include flu-like symptoms – headache, dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, confusion and nausea,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, chief medical executive. “If you think you have been exposed, it is important to get into an area with fresh air immediately and seek medical attention.”
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that each year approximately 50,000 people across the country visit the emergency department for accidental CO poisoning. In 2019, the latest year that data are available from the MDHHS Michigan Environmental Public Health Tracking Program (MiTracking), there were 1,090 Michigan emergency department visits for CO poisoning.
CO poisoning can be prevented by practicing the safety tips listed below and knowing the symptoms of exposure. At high levels, CO can cause death within minutes. If you suspect you may be experiencing CO poisoning, or your CO detector alarm goes off, go outside immediately for fresh air and THEN call 911.
To protect yourself and your family from CO, follow these safety tips:
Ultra Quiet Generator Visit Michigan.gov/MiTracking for more information about CO poisoning.