Learn To Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Ocean County Health Department
Ocean County Health Department (Photo by Jason Allentoff)

OCEAN COUNTY – The carbon monoxide detector isn’t blaring from a malfunction. Ocean County Health Department officials are urging residents to take those alarms seriously. It could save a life.

When a CO alarm sounds off, leave the home immediately and call for help.

“It’s called the silent killer because carbon monoxide is a gas that gives no warning – you can’t see it, taste it or smell it. Never gamble with your family’s health and safety by assuming it just may be the batteries or some other unknown reason that triggered the device,” Ocean County Freeholder Gerry P. Little, liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health said.

Heating and cooking appliances, tools, vehicles, and other household devices can cause carbon monoxide poisoning, leading to more than 400 deaths each year in the United States.

Residents should have CO detectors on every level in their homes and near every sleeping area. Batteries should be replaced twice a year for daylights savings. Suspected malfunctioning batteries should be replaced immediately.

“During cold and influenza season, symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can easily be confused with symptoms of viral illness like the common cold or flu. If symptoms come on shortly after turning on a device in a certain room and go away after leaving the area or more than one person gets sick at the same time, then these are clues to help identify CO poisoning,” Daniel Regenye, OCHD Public Health Coordinator, said.

Prevention is also key.

  • Keep all heating and dryer vents clear of snow, leaves and other debris.
  • Keep open flues when using a fireplace. Have chimneys inspected for blockage.
  • Don’t use the stove to heat the home/apartment.
  • Generators are for outdoor use only. Keep them at least 20 feet from buildings, doors and windows.
  • Keep generators, pressure washers, grills, camp stoves, or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices out of the house (including a basement, garage, carport, camper, boat cabin, or tent) and away from open windows and doors.
  • Do not idle vehicles in a closed garage.

“If someone is unresponsive or unconscious and you suspect them being exposed to CO poisoning, get them out of the house and call 9-1-1 without delay. Trying to open windows is only a waste of time and will only cause you to breathe in more of the dangerous fumes. However, it’s ok to leave the door open after you exit so fresh air can seep in,” Regenye said.

For more information on CO poisoning, visit the poison center at njpies.org.