As winter arrives, Ohioans are particularly susceptible to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, according to the Ohio Safe Homes Coalition.
A recent event hosted by the Coalition held at the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority house near The Ohio State University shared basic information about what CO is, why it is dangerous, how it can be released from appliances and generators, how to identify symptoms of CO exposure, and what to do if exposure is suspected.
Governor John Kasich had declared this past week Carbon Monoxide Safety Awareness Week in Ohio. In his declaration, Gov. Kasich encouraged all Ohioans to increase their knowledge of CO safety. Citing statistics and information about CO toxicity and incident frequency throughout Ohio, Gov. Kasich noted that the state's geographic location, including its typically cold winter months, underscores the need for Ohioans to be informed about this safety issue.
Information at the event was provided by State Fire Marshal Deputy Chief Jeffrey Leaming, Columbus Fire Department Assistant Chief David Walton, Central Ohio Poison Center Director Henry Spiller and Ammie Turos, a CO incident survivor who lost her son, Jimmy, in a December 2004 incident caused by a faulty heat exchanger in a basement furnace, which caused CO to
collect at a level that was more than 200 times what is considered safe.
CO poisoning is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America. It is produced anytime a fossil fuel is burned. Leaming shared that, "According to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, CO poisoning causes more than 400 deaths and 20,000 emergency department visits in the U.S. annually."
Further, Spiller shared information on how CO is often called the "silent killer," because it is
odorless and tasteless. Walton indicated that potential CO sources include furnaces, water heaters, space heaters, clothes dryers, barbecue grills, fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, gas ovens, generators and car exhaust fumes, just to name a few. When these appliances
malfunction or are used improperly, CO poisoning may occur.
The National Fire Protection Association reports that nearly 89 percent of reported non-fire CO incidents take place at home. Having a working carbon monoxide alarm is the only safe way to detect this poisonous gas.
At the program's conclusion, The Ohio Safe Homes Coalition announced a donation of 50 CO alarms to Russ Foust, a former Bellefontaine firefighter and The Manager of Fire Prevention and Safety at The Ohio State University.