Tuesday, December 30, 2008

An Important New Years’ Reminder on Home Safety

As you prepare for the New Year, whether it be with a champagne toast or new list of resolutions, I’m asking you to take one more step to help keep you and your family safe in the coming year.

Recently, I lost a very dear college friend to carbon monoxide poisoning. My friend, her husband and two children passed in their sleep when a snow melt system for the vacation home they were staying in malfunctioned. It was a terrible and needless accident and a tragedy that could have been avoided if a carbon monoxide detector had been installed and working in the home.

What You Need to Know:

Whether you live in apartment or a house, carbon monoxide can cause real and serious danger – it is considered a silent killer. Gas, oil, kerosene, coal, charcoal, and wood are all sources for carbon monoxide. Gas heating and cooking systems, propane space heaters, fireplaces, generators and car engine exhaust can all be sources of carbon monoxide build-up that can lead to poisoning and/or death.

Symptoms of poisoning can include headaches, nausea and fatigue, and can often be mistaken for the flu. It is impossible to detect carbon monoxide - you can’t see it, smell it or taste it. It is completely odorless.

This New Year, Please Take These Steps to Protect Yourself and Your Family:

According to the Centers for Disease Control, carbon monoxide poisoning claims nearly 500 lives, and causes more than 15,000 visits to hospital emergency departments annually. To protect yourself, please take care to do the following:

· Inspect your home heating system, chimney, and flue each year. Ensure that chimneys are clear of any debris (nests, fallen bricks, leaves) to ensure proper ventilation.

· Be sure your furnace and other appliances, such as gas ovens, ranges, and cook tops, have adequate ventilation.

· Do not operate gasoline-powered engines in confined areas such as garages or basements. Do not leave your car, mower, or other vehicle running in an attached garage.

· Do not block or seal shut exhaust flues or ducts for appliances such as water heaters, ranges, and clothes dryers.

But of course, the best thing to do, is to MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTOR – and use it.

There are two types of carbon monoxide detectors: stand alone detectors as well as a type of detector which interconnects (wirelessly) with others installed in a home. If you have multiple levels in your home and one goes off, the other alarms will be triggered.

According to reviews from Consumer Reports, Kidde is an excellent brand, as is First Alert. The important thing is to have it and ensure that the battery is checked (along with your smoke detector) twice a year. New Years and Fourth of July are good dates to keep in mind.

Following are links to two detectors that were highly rated by Consumer Reports. They are both available through Amazon (along with many other types and models). Places like Home Depot and Lowes also carry them.



This year, please take some time to check to see if you have a carbon monoxide detector. If you don’t, please make sure to have one installed in your home. If you already do, please take time in the coming days to install fresh batteries.

Thank you and a safe and peaceful New Year.

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