Consumers Energy Lifesaving Tips to Protect Against ‘Silent Killer’ Carbon Monoxide

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JACKSON, Mich. – The colder temperatures of fall mean furnaces across Michigan are heating up homes and businesses, signaling the start of the deadliest season for carbon monoxide (CO) poisonings. DTE Energy and Consumers Energy have joined together to urge residents to protect themselves from the “silent killer” during Michigan Carbon Monoxide Safety Awareness Week, Nov. 8-14.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas that occurs when appliances and consumer products are improperly operated or vented and fuel – including oil, propane, natural gas, wood, charcoal, gasoline, kerosene and diesel – does not burn properly. Appliances that could be affected include furnaces, boilers, water heaters, ovens, fireplaces, portable heaters, generators, gas-powered lawn tools and vehicles.

“Carbon monoxide poisoning is highly dangerous this time of year, but fortunately, it’s preventable,” said Dan Brudzynski, vice president of Gas Sales & Supply for DTE Gas. “Our goal this week and all winter long is to make sure Michigan residents know how to protect themselves and their loved ones.”

“Consumers Energy is committed to helping Michigan families stay safe and prevent this life-threatening hazard,” said Tonya Berry, vice president of gas operations at Consumers Energy. “We urge you to learn the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning and protect your loved ones by installing audible carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home.”

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning often mimic the flu and can include headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath and stinging or burning of the eyes. Prolonged exposure can cause loss of consciousness and even death. High concentrations of carbon monoxide can kill in less than five minutes. If you experience these symptoms and suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, leave the building immediately, call 9-1-1 for medical attention and stay out of the building until the problem has been corrected.

Other tips for protecting against carbon monoxide poisoning include:

  • Get appliances serviced. Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, wood or coal-burning appliances inspected by a professional annually.
  • Change or clean furnace air filters at least once every month (more if pets are present) during the heating season.
  • Regularly inspect your chimney and vent pipes to be sure they are free of obstructions like leaves and nests.
  • During a power outage, never use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove or other gasoline, kerosene or charcoal burning device inside your home, basement, garage or near a window. Do not place portable generators near enclosed areas, doors, windows, or fresh air intakes. Refer to your manufacturers guide for clearances.
  • If your garage is attached to your home, do not leave your car or truck idling inside, even if the garage door is open.
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