County releases information on carbon monoxide poisoning

AMSTERDAM — Montgomery County Public Health has issued guidelines to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning this winter.

Every year, many people get sick or die due to carbon monoxide poisoning from alternate heating sources. Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that can kill in minutes. It is invisible, tasteless, odorless and non-irritating. Carbon monoxide is produced from burning fuels such as wood, oil, natural gas, propane, gasoline and kerosene.

Carbon monoxide is known as the “silent killer.” It can prevent the body from getting oxygen. Symptoms can be flu-like, nausea, headache, dizziness, shortness of breath, sleepiness and weakness. In large amounts, carbon monoxide can cause loss of consciousness, brain damage or death.

Public Health suggests these safety tips to help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:

∫ Make sure fuel-burning appliances are properly installed, operated and serviced by qualified technicians according to the manufacturer’s instructions and local building codes.

∫ Properly vent all fuel-burning appliances to the outside of the house and make sure the vents are not covered with snow, tarps or other items.

∫ Consider buying a vented space heater when replacing an unvented one.

∫ Never use a portable generator, gas or charcoal grill or portable fuel-burning camping equipment inside a home, building or shed.

∫ Open the fireplace damper before lighting a fire and don’t close it until the ashes are cool.

∫ Move idling car or truck outside the garage to warm up.

∫ Never use gas appliances, such as stoves, ovens, or clothes dryers, to heat the home.

Working carbon monoxide detector alarms provide people and their families with warning signals and critical time to escape the house in case of a carbon monoxide incident. Place carbon monoxide alarms in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. Test all alarms every month to make sure they are working properly.

If there is suspected carbon monoxide poisoning:

∫ Get out of the building and into fresh air.

∫ Call the fire department from outside the building.

∫ Call the gas company from outside the building.

∫ Call 911 if someone is experiencing symptoms or take the ill person to the emergency room. Tell the physician of a suspected carbon monoxide poisoning.

Don’t let having a carbon monoxide detector to give all the security that is needed to be safe. Preventing the problem is better than relying on an alarm.

For more information contact Montgomery County Public Health at (518) 853-3531, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.