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Carbon Monoxide Safety Information That You Should Know

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Dec 162019
 

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 10.50.41 PMThe Orange Volunteer Fire Department has been busy recently with carbon monoxide calls around town. Early Monday morning an alarm went off and the family could not be reached by phone, which is a frightening scenario for the dispatcher and first responders who aren’t sure what they will encounter. In this case, the family did make it out of the house after the OVFD arrived.

The Orange Fire Marshal’s Office in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) urges the community to be aware of the important facts and safety information regarding Carbon Monoxide.Carbon Monoxide poisoning is a serious threat that people need to get informed about. 

By educating ourselves on the dangers of carbon monoxide, we can significantly reduce the health risk, as well as save lives.  So in response to many of the questions that the Fire Marshal’s Office has received, we have decided to include this article to help you and your families stay safe.

HOW DOES CARBON MONOXIDE HARM YOU?

Carbon monoxide is harmful when breathed because it attaches to the hemoglobin, which is the part of the blood that carries the oxygen to the brain, heart, and other vital organs.  By attaching itself to the hemoglobin, the carbon monoxide displaces the oxygen, thus depriving your body of much needed oxygen.  Large amounts of carbon monoxide can overcome you in minutes without warning, causing you to lose consciousness and suffocate.

WHAT IS CARBON MONOXIDE?

Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that is a product of combustion.  The carbon monoxide produced while using fuel-fired equipment is usually not harmful.  Normally, increased carbon monoxide levels in homes are caused by faulty heating equipment, poor maintenance of exhaust systems, or something as simple as allowing your vehicle to warm up in your garage during those cold winter days.  How can you reduce the opportunity for increased levels of carbon monoxide in your home?  It’s simple.  Follow these preventative measures to ensure your family will not suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • At the beginning of every heating season, be sure to have your fuel burning equipment such as your oil or gas fired furnaces, water heaters, oven ranges and stoves, clothes dryers, fire places and wood stoves inspected by certified technicians.
  • Have you flues and chimneys checked for any buildup of creosote or blockage of the chimney.
  • Be sure to maintain all your fuel-fired equipment as described by the manufacturer’s specifications.
  • NEVER leave your car running in an attached garage.  The vapors from the vehicle’s exhaust could increase the level of carbon monoxide in your home dramatically in a matter of minutes!
  • NEVER use a gas stove to heat your home in the event of a power failure or heating equipment failure.
  • NEVER use charcoal or propane grills indoors.  Not only does this pose an extreme carbon monoxide hazard, it is also a severe fire hazard as well.
  • Think safety first when considering the use of alternative heating, such as space heaters.  Make sure the space heater is far away from combustible materials at a minimum of three to four feet.  If using fuel fired space heaters, never sleep in a room without proper ventilation.  Make sure that all fuel-fired space heaters are equipped with oxygen depletion sensors.
  • Do not use gasoline-powered equipment in enclosed areas of the home.  Such engines create a mass amount of carbon monoxide.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors as you would smoke detectors.  It is recommended that you should have a carbon monoxide detector on every level of the home, as well as in all sleeping areas.  When installing your carbon monoxide detectors, be sure not to install them within five feet of any fuel burning equipment.  Make it a point to install these live saving alarms.  They will not work if they stay in the package on your workbench!

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING

Because carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas, it is not always immediately evident when it has become a problem.  All too often, people who have mild or moderate problems with carbon monoxide will find they feel sick while they spend time at home. 

When venturing out into the fresh air, they will begin to feel much better but will have re-occurring symptoms shortly after returning to their home.  People who are most susceptible to the effects of carbon monoxide are infants, elderly residents, those family members who suffer from respiratory or heart disease, or anemia, and women who are pregnant must take special care.  However, nobody is immune to the effects of carbon monoxide.  Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include the following:

  • Physical Symptoms: Headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, joint pain, chronic fatigue, dizziness, numbness, tingling, vertigo
  • Cognitive/Memory Impairments: attention problems, multi-tasking problems, word-finding problems, short-term memory loss, verbal and/or visual deficits
  • Affective Disorders (Emotional/Personality Effects): irritability, anxiety, lack of motivation, temper, loss of interest, sleep disturbance
  • Sensory and Motor Disorders: blurred vision, double vision, buzzing in the ears, decreased coordination, speaking, eating, and swallowing disorders
  • Gross Neurological Disorders: Seizures, inability to speak, balance problems, tremors

WHAT TO DO IN THE EVENT OF A CARBON MONOXIDE EMERGENCY:

Should you or a family member suspect that there may be an increased level of carbon monoxide in your home, or you have installed the recommended carbon monoxide alarms in your residence and they begin to go into alarm, follow these simple steps to help resolve the problem:

  • First and foremost, CALL 9-1-1!  This important step will allow trained first responders with the equipment needed to protect you and your family to investigate the possible presence of carbon monoxide.  DO NOT HESITATE TO CALL THIS EMERGENCY NUMBER!  Many times, calls will be made directly to a volunteer firehouse, which will delay the response of emergency personnel.  After asking the caller why they did not decide to call 9-1-1, more often they state that they did not think this type of situation is what they would consider as an emergency that warranted such a call, when in reality it is!
  • Get any suspected victim into fresh air immediately!
  • If you can not get the victim out of the house, open all of the windows and doors to allow fresh air into the home.  Be sure to turn off any fuel-fired appliances.
  • Those persons who have been exposed to elevated levels of carbon monoxide should be taken to the closest hospital as soon as possible.  A simple blood test will determine the amount of carbon monoxide in the bloodstream.

Should you have any questions pertaining to this matter, you may contact the Orange Fire Marshal’s Office at (203) 891-4700.  The Orange Fire Marshal’s Office also has a website, which you can find information about this and many other fire related topics.  You can visit the website by going to www.orangefiremarshal.com.

Fire Marshal Tim Smith urges all residents to install a carbon monoxide detector in their home, and the Fire Marshal’s office gives them out for free. If you don’t have one, call the Smith at the number above to see if his office has any more available.

Fire Prevention Everyone/Everyday – Get Your Posters Ready

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Sep 202014
 

Last Year's 5th grade winner Zaruf Mujawar.

Last Year’s 5th grade winner Zaruf Mujawar.

Orange Fire Marshal Tim Smith announced that the 2014 Connecticut Fire Prevention Poster Contest, a statewide competition for fourth and fifth graders held from October to December, has begun. 

The contest is a cooperative effort of elementary school teachers and the sponsors: Connecticut Fire Marshals Association, Office of The State Fire Marshal, Connecticut Fire Chiefs Association, Connecticut Board of Education, Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection and  Connecticut FAIR Plan (representing the insurance industry). The theme is “Fire Prevention- Everyone/Everyday.”

About 30,000 children from more than 130 communities design and produce the posters. 

A winning poster will be chosen from each county and that student will receive a cash award of $150.00. 

Posters will be exhibited in locations throughout Connecticut, including the State Capitol.  From these, one poster will be chosen to be reproduced and distributed as Connecticut’s 2015 Fire Prevention Poster. The statewide winner will be awarded an additional $750.00 and his or her school will receive $500.00. 

A luncheon, where the state winner is announced, will be held for county winners, parents, teachers, principals, local fire marshals and other guests. Fire safety education is important as a means of preventing injuries, death and economic loss. The contest brings awareness to children, who are a valuable link in the chain of communication; taking information home to the family and suggesting ways to reduce damage and prevent fires. The Orange Fire Marshal’s Office would like to thank the students, administrators and teachers from the Peck Place, Race Brook and Turkey Hill schools for their support and participation. 

Important fire prevention measures include:

• never playing with matches or lighters • never leaving a lit candle unattended • never leaving cooking utensils unattended • and keeping flammable items away from heat sources.

Some fire escape tips are:

• never hide • get low and go • know two ways out of every room • have and practice a home escape plan and meeting place • never go back into a burning building. 

If your clothes catch on fire:

• stop where you are • drop to the ground and roll over until the fire is out • cover your face with your hands. 

Smoke alarms should be installed:

• on every level of the home including finished attics and basements • inside every bedroom and sleeping area • at the top of the first–to-second floor stairway • at the bottom of the basement stairway

A working detector cuts the risk of dying in a fire by one-half. 

NOTE: Kids, as a past poster contest judge, I’d like to stress the importance of having the words, “Fire Prevention- Everyone/Everyday” on your poster. Be sure all words on your poster are spelled correctly too.  It breaks our hearts to have to disqualify you because an otherwise perfect poster is missing these two requirements. So when you plan out your poster make sure  these words are prominently displayed and double check for spelling accuracy. Good Luck!

The Orange Fire Marshal’s Office Community Smoke Detector Program provides and installs 10 year lithium battery alarms free of charge to Orange residents. The program has been expanded to include carbon monoxide detectors. 

If you have questions regarding fire safety or wish to have smoke or CO alarms provided and/or installed in your home, please contact The Orange Fire Marshal’s Office at 203-891-4711, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.