Florida DOH Cautions Against CO Poisoning

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

The Florida Department of Health (DOH) urges Floridians to take precautions to prevent carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning during the cold winter months. As temperatures drop, the potential for CO poisonings and deaths rise.

“Carbon monoxide can be fatal if people are exposed to high levels, even for short periods of time,” said Dr. Lisa Conti, Director of the DOH Division of Environmental Health. “Floridians who use indoor gas heaters and fireplaces should ensure the heaters exhaust to the outdoors, regularly check and maintain fuel burning appliances, have a working CO alarm in their homes and be aware of the signs of CO poisoning.”

Invisible, odorless and tasteless, CO is a highly poisonous gas produced by burning fuels such as gasoline, natural gas, kerosene, charcoal and wood. Inside a home, CO can come from a gas-fueled furnace, gas water heater, gas clothes dryer, gas ranges, kerosene space heaters, portable generators, gas or charcoal grills, fireplaces or wood stoves. The risk of illness or death increases with the level of CO in the air and the amount of time exposed.

Dangerous CO levels can result when home appliances are not properly maintained or when used incorrectly. Anyone who suspects symptoms of CO poisoning should go outside immediately. If a person has collapsed or is not breathing, call 911 for emergency medical assistance immediately from a safer location (outside or from a neighbor's home).

Signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include:

Chest pain
Impaired vision and coordination
Dizziness, confusion or nausea

How to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:

*Install and use fuel-burning appliances according to manufacturer instructions.

*Have fuel-burning appliances inspected and serviced annually by a licensed contractor.


*Inspect exhaust ventilation systems every year, including chimneys, flues and vents.

*NEVER burn charcoal inside a house, garage, vehicle or tent, even in a fireplace.

*Avoid using unvented gas or kerosene heaters in enclosed spaces, especially sleeping areas.

*NEVER leave an automobile running in a garage, even with the garage door open.

*Do not leave the rear window or tailgate of a vehicle open while driving. CO from the exhaust can be pulled inside the car, van or camper.

*Install CO alarms inside the house. Purchase battery operated CO alarms or plug-in CO alarms with battery backup according to manufacturer's installation instructions.

*The CO alarm should meet the most recent UL 2034 standard, IAS 6-96 standard or the CSA 6.19.01 standard.

*Replace CO alarm batteries once a year and test alarms frequently.

*Replace CO alarms once every five years in accordance with recommendations by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

*NEVER use a portable generator indoors, including in homes, garages, basements, crawl spaces, sheds and other enclosed or partially enclosed areas. ALWAYS place portable generators outdoors on a dry surface, away from doors, windows, vents and air conditioning equipment that could allow CO to enter.



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