BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — During the winter months when temperatures are low many people turn their heating systems on for hours increasing the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide comes from products of combustion, whether it's natural gas, gasoline, wood, or coal and incomplete combustion of those products can produce CO.
According to the CDC, 430 people die in the US from accidental Carbon Monoxide poisoning.
Chief Brian Bowman Battalion Chief for Bakersfield Fire Department said that while it’s not something they encounter every day it’s important to be aware of the dangers of CO poisoning because death from it can be prevented.
“CO is a colorless, odorless gas that can cause, headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, loss of consciousness, or even death,” said Bowman.
Approximately 50,000 people nationwide visit the emergency room each year because of CO poisoning.
To help protect your family from getting CO poisoning you can properly vent and maintain those fuel-burning appliances.
Gary Flanagan president of Econo Air, an air conditioning and heating company in Bakersfield said the best thing you can do is install and maintain CO alarms in your home.
The Bakersfield Fire Department agrees with Flanagan adding the advice of making sure to follow instructions.
“The best thing is to follow manufacturer guidelines. So, if we are going to use our stoves and our ovens, we are going to use them to cook,” said Bowman. “We’re going to use them for what they’re specified to be used for, we’re not going to use them all day long with the doors open to heat our homes. If we’re going to use some type of fuel-burning heater or cooking appliance, then we are going to use it outdoors.”
The CDC also said you should check or change the batteries in your CO detector every six months, have your systems serviced every year, keep vents free of debris, and never leave the motor running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed space and more.
Bowman said their firefighters do carry handheld CO monitors with them to test the air for carbon monoxide when responding to calls.
“We do get calls for carbon monoxide, alarms going off, we do carry handheld monitors in all of our apparatus so that we can go in and test the air if we do detect, CO in the air above normal levels than the best thing we can do is evacuate the occupants, treat them medically and then ventilate the house,” said Bowman.
If you have any symptoms, Parthiban Munnainathan, the Associate Medical Director with Omni Family Health said you should consider the fact that you may have CO poisoning.
“But if you have these appliances that might be producing it or if you have an old fireplace or anything that is constantly burning, and you feel headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and you also notice that other family members feel this way too, than its good to suspect it,” said Munnainathan.
Munnainathan also added that if you are experiencing symptoms, you should first leave that area that may be causing you to have symptoms and call 911 for immediate help.