Carbon Monoxide Safety and Awareness Week is underway and officials say knowing how to recognize and prevent it could save someone’s life.

The three months that are most prevalent in terms of carbon monoxide poisoning are December, January and February. Carbon Monoxide is deemed the silent killer being a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas. Consumers Energy spokeswoman Debra Dodd says most people don’t know they have a problem unless they take proper precautions to prevent it and install an audible CO alarm in their home or business. Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen almost anywhere; in homes, businesses, RVs, or boats for example. Some signs of a problem and symptoms if someone doesn’t have a carbon monoxide alarm tend to mimic the flu and include headaches, fatigue, nausea and dizziness.

Dodd says every year there are usually 400-500 people affected by carbon monoxide poisoning in the state. She notes that fortunately, very few succumb to that but in the past five or six years in Michigan, there have been several victims of carbon monoxide poisoning based on various things. Dodd says furnace inspections are recommended before the winter hits and that furnace air filters are changed at least once a month in the winter. Chimneys and vent pipes should be examined to make sure animals aren’t trying to nest or any leaves or other debris are clogging things up. There are other hazards to be addressed when it comes to using snow blowers, or warming up vehicles. Dodd tells WHMI vehicles should not be left running in a garage, even with the door open, because dangerous levels of C-O can build up. She says snow blowers should also be started and kept running outside of an enclosed area, and the same goes for generators.

Consumers Energy recommends installing an alarm in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of a home. C-O alarms are often combined with smoke alarms and can be purchased at most grocery and hardware stores. For anyone that thinks they do have a carbon monoxide problem, Dodd advises to get out of the house or building and call both 911 and your energy provider.

Further details and safety information is available through the link provided. (JM)