Get Healthy: Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in your home
November 7, 2012
This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.As the weather cools in Carson City, more people are using furnaces and fires to heat their homes. Carson City Health and Human Services and the Carson City Fire Department would like to remind everyone of the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, and present some strategies for keeping your family safe this winter. Carbon monoxide is present in fumes produced by furnaces, vehicles and yard equipment, portable generators, stoves, lanterns, gas appliances, or burning charcoal or wood. In poorly ventilated spaces, carbon monoxide from these sources can build up, leading people and animals to suffer from symptoms of CO poisoning, including headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, confusion, and even death. According to the CDC, more than 450 people die each year in the U.S. from unintentional, non-fire related CO poisoning.Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless and toxic gas produced as a byproduct of combustion. You cannot hear it, see it, or smell it in your home. The only way to know if you are being exposed to this dangerous gas is by having at least one working carbon monoxide detector on every floor in your home. “Any home that has gas appliances absolutely needs a CO detector,” says Tom Tarulli, assistant chief with the Carson City Fire Department. Detectors can be purchased at home improvement stores for $30-$50. Be sure to replace the battery in your CO detector when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. Hopefully your CO detector will never sound, but what should you do if it does? Call the fire department, and if you suspect a gas leak, the gas company as well. “Carson City Fire Department has all the equipment to test for CO and where it’s coming from,” Tarulli explains, “as it could come from many things. It’s not always a gas leak.” To alert the fire department, you should dial 911. You can prevent carbon monoxide exposure in your home. “We need to be aware of our combustion appliances, whether they are in the home or in the garage,” says Dustin Boothe, environmental health specialist with Carson City Health and Human Services. Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal-burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year. Don’t use a gasoline, propane or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement or garage, or near a window through which the fumes could enter your home.If you suspect CO poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseous, call 911 and seek medical care right away.To learn more about our clinic and other health department services, check us out on the web at http://www.gethealthycarsoncity.org or “like” our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/cchhs . Carson City Health and Human Services900 E. Long St.,Carson City.Call 775-887-2195.Hours: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and Friday; call for appointment.Well-child visits: 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Mondays.Men’s clinic: 4-6 p.m. Mondays.Immunization Day: 8:30-11:30 a.m.; 1-4:30 p.m. Thursdays.Douglas CountyCommunity Health1538 Highway 395 North (Corner of Spruce Street and Cemetery Lane).Call 775-782-9038.Clinic hours: 8:30 a.m. – noon Monday; 8:30 a.m. -4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday.Monday is Immunization Day: No appointment needed, 1-4:30 p.m.