Carbon monoxide poisoning, which is being blamed for critically injuring five family members in a Smithfield home last night, is a potentially deadly hazard that everyone needs to be aware of, said James Gumbley, Chief Deputy in the State Fire Marshal's Office.
"People cannot rely on their sense of smell to protect themselves from the silent dangers of carbon monoxide," Gumbley said. "It is an odorless, colorless gas that is called the silent killer because it results in the deaths of more than 400 people nationwide each year."
Every home should have carbon monoxide alarms that are in good working order installed on every level and outside every bedroom, Gumbley said "That's the only way to safeguard your family from the build-up of dangerous carbon monoxide levels."
All fuel-burning appliances generate carbon monoxide, Gumbley noted. That's why heating systems should be professionally maintained at least once per year.
It's also important to know the warning signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, Gumbley said. The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, vomiting, chest pain and confusion.
The Centers for Disease Control offer these tips for preventing carbon monoxide poisoning:
• Never use a gas range or oven to heat a home.
• Never leave the motor running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.
• Never run a motor vehicle, generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine outside an open window, door, or vent where exhaust can vent into an enclosed area.
• Never run a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine inside a basement, garage, or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open, unless the equipment is professionally installed and vented. Keep vents and flues free of debris, especially if winds are high. Flying debris can block ventilation lines.
• Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside a home, tent, or camper.
• If conditions are too hot or too cold, seek shelter with friends or at a community shelter.