Carbon monoxide hazards increase after heavy Tahoe Truckee winter | SierraSun.com

Carbon monoxide hazards increase after heavy Tahoe Truckee winter

Gene WelshSpecial to the Sun

TRUCKEE, Calif. andamp;#8212; After this winter’s heavy snowfall, you need to check for possible damage to the flue pipes from your gas and wood-fired appliances. The large levels of snow coming off the roofs can cause snow splitters and flue pipes to crush and become restricted or completely blocked. This can cause the waste products of combustion to back up and enter your home or business. One of these waste products is carbon monoxide (CO), which is both explosive and lethal. Operating generators during power outages and alternative heating can also create problems. Find following important safety information provided by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas consumers cannot see or smell. On average, there were an estimated 184 unintentional, non-fire CO poisoning deaths annually associated with consumer products from 2004 through 2007. Carbon monoxide associated with generators and home-heating systems accounted for the largest percentage of reported fatalities.CO and smoke alarms should be tested monthly. CPSC recommends consumers replace the batteries in their smoke and CO alarms every year. Smoke alarms should be located on every level of the home, outside sleeping areas, and inside each bedroom. Each home should have at least one carbon monoxide detector in the area outside individual bedrooms. CO alarms should not be installed in attics or basements unless they include a sleeping area. Combination smoke and CO alarms are available to consumers.CPSC recommends consumers follow these safety tips to prevent fires and CO poisoning from occurring in the home:

andamp;#8226; Never leave cooking equipment unattended. andamp;#8226; Use caution with candles, lighters, matches and smoking materials near upholstered furniture, mattresses, and bedding. Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children.andamp;#8226; Have a fire escape plan and practice it, so family members know what to do and where to meet. Children and the elderly may sleep through or not react to the sound of a smoke alarm; therefore, parents and caregivers should adjust their fire escape plan to help children and the elderly escape in the event of a fire.

andamp;#8226; Have a professional inspect home heating, cooling, and water-heating appliances annually. Improperly operating appliances can produce fatal CO concentrations in the home. andamp;#8226; Never ignore a CO alarm signal. It is warning you of a potentially deadly hazard. If the alarm signal sounds, do not try to find the source of the CO. Immediately move outside to fresh air. Call your emergency services, fire department, or 911.andamp;#8226; Never use a portable generator indoors including in garages, basements, crawl spaces and sheds. Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent CO build up in the home.andamp;#8226; When using portable generators, keep them outdoors and far away from open doors, windows, and vents to avoid toxic levels of CO from building up indoors.andamp;#8226; If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air right away. The CO from generators can quickly lead to incapacitation and death.andamp;#8226; Never burn charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal in an enclosed space can produce lethal levels of carbon monoxide.For more information, visit http://www.FireSafety.gov for fire safety information from CPSC and other federal agencies or contact your local fire department.andamp;#8212; Gene Welch, public safety andamp; information officer, Truckee Fire Protection District, 10049 Donner Pass Road, Truckee