Michigan Carbon Monoxide Safety and Awareness Week Seeks to Educate; Prevent Tragedies
JACKSON, Mich., Oct. 24, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — The deaths last week of a Corunna couple vacationing at their cottage in the Upper Peninsula because of suspected carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is a tragic reminder of the importance of the dangers of exposure to this toxic gas.
To help increase awareness of CO, its signs, symptoms and how to prevent it, Consumers Energy and Governor Rick Snyder have partnered to declare October 24-30 as Carbon Monoxide Safety and Awareness Week in Michigan.
Often referred to as the “silent killer”, CO is colorless, odorless and tasteless and can be produced when home appliances aren’t operating or venting properly.
“Typically we see most carbon monoxide poisonings occur during the fall and winter heating season when furnaces are operating and homes are closed up,” said Doug Detterman, manager of customer care for Consumers Energy. “That’s why we continue to share information with our customers and urge them to take the necessary steps that will keep natural gas furnaces and other appliances working safely and reliably in the cold winter months ahead.”
Each year more than 500 people nationwide die from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, while more than 15,000 are treated at hospitals through the U.S. for accidental exposure to CO, according to the Centers For Disease Control.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is caused by the incomplete combustion of fuels including natural gas, oil, propane, coal, wood, kerosene, gasoline, diesel fuel and charcoal. Faulty or inadequately vented appliances that use these fuels such as furnaces, fireplaces, wood stoves, kerosene heaters as well as gasoline-powered vehicles and home generators can produce deadly amounts of carbon monoxide.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning often mimic the flu, and include headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, stinging or burning of the eyes. Higher concentrations can result in unconsciousness, coma and death. Small children, the elderly and pets are particularly susceptible to CO.
The best way to protect against carbon monoxide problems is to purchase and install an audible carbon monoxide alarm approved by the Underwriters Laboratory. This alarm will sound if dangerous levels of carbon monoxide are present in a home or building. If only one CO alarm is installed in a home, it is recommended it be installed near sleeping quarters, as many poisonings take place when people are sleeping.
Consumers Energy sells a Nighthawk brand CO alarm that features an extended seven-year warranty as well as the CO Protection Plan, which offers free response from the utility if the alarm sounds.
Another way to protect again CO poisoning is to make sure all fuel-burning appliances are properly installed and maintained. Furnaces should be cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified service technician. Venting on furnaces, water heaters and chimneys also should be inspected periodically to be sure that they are free of animal nests or other debris that could block proper ventilation.
For more information about Consumers Energy Nighthawk brand CO alarms, call toll-free at 1-800-500-6565. The CO Detector and CO Protection Plan are not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission.
Consumers Energy, the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), provides natural gas and electric service to nearly 6.5 million of Michigan’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
SOURCE Consumers Energy