Carbon Monoxide: The “Invisible Killer”

By Erica Kersey - ericak@landings.org
Security Office Manager

Winter is approaching, and that signifies new beginnings and a renewed outlook on life for many people. It also means that, for us Savannahians, it is cold, and we are turning up the heat!

Unfortunately, turning up the heat is not always a good thing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least two people die each day in January from unintentional carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Additionally, thousands of people are hospitalized each year as a result of carbon monoxide exposure.

CO is an odorless, colorless gas that often goes undetected, thus earning it the moniker “invisible killer”. It should come as no surprise that winter is the prime time for this “invisible killer” to strike, as people turn on their heating systems or warm their cars in garages. Anyone is at risk for CO poisoning. However, the CDC says infants, older adults, and individuals with chronic heart disease, anemia, or breathing problems are more prone to illness or death.

Below are just a few tips from the CDC to keep you and your family safe this winter (www.cdc.gov/co/faqs.htm).

  • Have your heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil, or coal-burning appliances inspected and serviced annually by a trained service technician.
  • Install battery-operated or battery backup CO detectors in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. Your CO detector should be replaced every five years.
  • Have your chimney checked and cleaned each year.
  • Make sure your gas appliances are vented properly.
  • Never leave a car idling in the garage, even if the garage door is left open.
  • Never heat a house with a gas oven.
  • Never use a generator inside your home or garage or fewer than 20 feet from any windows, doors, or vents.
  • Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning -- headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, sleepiness, and confusion.