JACKSON, Mich., Oct. 19, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- With temperatures dropping and furnaces clicking on, Consumers Energy and the State of Michigan are urging residents to protect themselves against carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, also known as the Silent Killer because the toxic gas is odorless, tasteless and colorless.
"We appreciate Gov. Snyder declaring October 18-24 as Carbon Monoxide Safety and Awareness Week in Michigan. It is important to share important information about taking preventive measures and learning the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning because it is the leading cause of poisoning in the United States," said Charles Crews, Consumers Energy's vice president of gas operations. "Caring for the communities we serve is part of our Promise to Michigan, and we want people to be knowledgeable and prepared, and to stay safe."
In 2013, the latest year data is available from the Michigan Department of Community Health, a total of 823 Michigan residents suffered unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning that resulted in 34 deaths.
Carbon monoxide is produced when appliances and consumer products are improperly operating or are not vented properly, including furnaces, boilers, water heaters, ovens, fireplaces, portable heaters, generators and vehicles. Incomplete combustion of fuels including oil, wood, natural gas, kerosene, gasoline, charcoal and diesel fuel can also cause deadly amounts of carbon monoxide to form.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are sometimes hard to diagnose because they mimic the flu, but include headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath and stinging or burning of the eyes. Prolonged exposure can cause disorientation, convulsions, loss of consciousness and even death.
Crews offered eight steps to prevent carbon monoxide problems and ensure homes, businesses, cabins and hunting lodges are safety prepared for the winter heating season:
- The best defense against carbon monoxide poisoning is to install an audible carbon monoxide detector that meets or exceeds Underwriters Laboratory standards and will alarm if dangerous levels of carbon monoxide are created in a home or building.
- Inspect your furnace annually and have it tuned up by a qualified service professional.
- Change furnace air filters at least once every other month (more if pets are present) during the heating season.
- Perform a visual inspection of the chimney and vent pipes to make sure they are free of obstructions such as leaves and nests. Clean them out if necessary.
- Never use gas stoves or charcoal grills to heat homes. These appliances can produce deadly amounts of carbon monoxide when used improperly.
- Never leave a supplemental heater or fireplace unattended. Keep clothing, papers and other flammable items well away from gas appliances and supplemental heaters.
- When using generators, be sure they have been connected by a licensed electrician and are only operated where there is adequate ventilation. Never use a generator in a basement, enclosed garage, breezeway, or near air intakes.
- Never leave snow blowers, power lawn equipment or generators running in an enclosed area like a garage. Cars should also never be left running in a garage.
If you suspect there is a carbon monoxide problem in your home, evacuate all people and pets immediately, move to fresh air and call 9-1-1. For more natural gas and electric safety information, go to www.ConsumersEnergy.com/safety.
Consumers Energy, Michigan's largest utility, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and electricity to 6.6 million of the state's 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
For more information about Consumers Energy, go to www.ConsumersEnergy.com.
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SOURCE Consumers Energy