Montgomery County urges heating safety

FONDA — The Montgomery County Public Health wants everyone to be warm this winter, but also to be safe while heating homes during these cold, winter months ahead, according to a news release.

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.

The 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 an idling car or truck outside the garage to warm up.

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

Working carbon monoxide detector alarms provide warning signals and critical time to escape a 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 a home. Test all alarms every month to make sure they are working properly.

If carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected:

∫ Get out of the building and into fresh air.

∫ Call the fire department from outside the building.

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

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

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

By Patricia Older