Monday, January 27, 2020

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, the Silent Killer

With recent winter temperatures below freezing, the Department for Public Health (DPH) in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services wants to remind residents to take action to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning (CO).

“Carbon monoxide poisonings are more likely during colder weather, so it is very important that Kentucky residents make sure their heating sources and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order,” said Rebecca Gillis, director of the DPH Division of Public Health Protection and Safety.

Since 2011, Kentucky law has required CO detectors in newly constructed one- and two-family dwellings, townhomes fewer than three stories, apartment buildings, dormitories, adult/child care facilities and assisted living facilities with fuel-burning appliances or attached garages.

In Kentucky, each year more than 200 people are treated at emergency rooms for carbon monoxide poisoning according to data from the Kentucky’s Environmental Public Health Tracking Program. National data from the National Environmental Public Health Tracking Program hows an average of 17 Kentuckians die every year from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning. These deaths and trips to the emergency room for carbon monoxide poisoning are preventable with preparation and awareness.

DPH aims to improve the health and safety of people in Kentucky through prevention, promotion and protection. Officials at DPH strongly encourage residents to follow these guidelines to prevent injury, illness or death:

Carbon Monoxide Safety 
•Make sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors. Replace the batteries in your detector yearly and push the Test button to make certain it is working properly. Replace your detector every five years or according to manufacturer instructions. 
•Have your furnace or wood-burning stove inspected annually by a professional to make sure it is working properly and safely vents to the outside the home.
•Never run a gasoline or propane heater or grill (gas or charcoal) inside your home or in an unventilated garage or other enclosed space. Any heating system that burns fuel produces carbon monoxide. Use a battery-powered detector where you have fuel-burning devices but no electric outlets, such as in tents, cabins, RVs, hunting blinds and boats with enclosed cabins.
•Generators should be run at a safe distance (at least 20-25 feet) from the home. Never run a generator in the home or garage or beside or beneath windows or doors. 
•Never run a car in an enclosed space. If a vehicle is running, you must have a door open to the outside. 
At high levels, carbon monoxide can cause death within minutes. Symptoms of overexposure to carbon monoxide include headache, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea and confusion. If you suspect you may be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, or your detector sounds an alarm, get outside immediately for fresh air and call 911.
More information about carbon monoxide poisoning can be found on the website for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website
Since 2006 the Kentucky Environmental Public Health Tracking Network (EPHTN) has been one of 26 CDC funded sites. With this funding, Kentucky has created a robust health and environmental data portal that informs consumers, communities, public health practitioners, researchers and policy makers on chronic diseases and related environmental hazards and population exposures. The Kentucky data portal, EnviroHealthLink.org has Kentucky specific information on topics such as radon, social vulnerability, injury and mortality, air and water quality and much more. This data can being used for research, grant writing, student project/papers, strategic planning, needs assessments. Curious about the health in your county? Check out Community Snapshot Reports. Kentucky health or environmental data can be found at EnviroHealthLink.org or via email.

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