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Prepare to ‘fall back’ by checking home detectors

With clocks being turned back early Sunday for Daylight Saving Time and temperatures continue to fall, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reminds residents it also is the season to guard against carbon monoxide poisoning.

“As it gets colder, we start seeing more carbon monoxide poisonings,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “To prepare for winter weather, Michiganders should make sure their heat sources and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order.”

On average, 145 people each year in Michigan are hospitalized for carbon monoxide poisoning, according to data from the MDHHS Michigan Environmental Public Health Tracking Program, or MiTracking. These hospitalizations are preventable when people are prepared.

Some tips to protect against carbon monoxide:

— Have working carbon monoxide detectors, preferably on every level of the home, including the basement. Detectors can be purchased at most hardware and big box stores.

— Daylight Saving Time is a good time each year to replace the batteries in detectors and push the “test” button to be sure it’s working properly. Detectors should be replaced every five years or according to manufacturer’s instructions.

— Have the home’s furnace or wood-burning stove inspected annually. Hire a professional to make sure it is functionally sound and vents properly outside the home.

— Never run a gasoline or propane heater, or a grill — gas or charcoal — inside the home or in an unventilated garage. Any heating system that burns fuel produces carbon monoxide.

— Use a battery-powered detector where operating fuel-burning devices without an electric outlets, such as in tents, cabins, RVs and boats with enclosed cabins.

— Generators should be run at least 20 feet away from the home. Never run a generator in the home or garage, or right next to windows or doors.

— Never run a motor vehicle in an enclosed space. If a vehicle is running, a door should be open to the outside.

At high levels, carbon monoxide can cause death within minutes. Symptoms of overexposure to carbon monoxide include headache, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea and confusion. Those who suspect they may be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, or if a detector sounds an alarm, head outside immediately for fresh air and call 911.

For more information about carbon monoxide poisoning, go to michigan.gov/MiTracking.

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