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Recent death shows importance of carbon monoxide safety

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Carbon monoxide detector

The Fredericktown Fire Department is attempting to develop a program to provide area residents with carbon monoxide detectors. 

The cold winter weather has entered the area and the need to stay warm has become a top priority. The tragic death of an Iron County family with two infant twins last week has caused a closer look at the importance of carbon monoxide safety.

"Following this week's news of a local family that tragically passed after carbon monoxide poisoning we would like to remind everyone of the importance of safe home heating measures and the use of carbon monoxide detectors," Fredericktown Fire Chief John Clark said. "In light of this event, our department is attempting to develop a program that will provide and install carbon monoxide detectors to area residents in need."

Clark said once the department obtains the detectors and establishes the groundwork of the program it will release that information via the department's digital accounts.

In the meantime, Fredericktown Fire Department wants to make remind the public of the efforts you can take to protect your household from the dangers of carbon monoxide. 

"Carbon Monoxide, CO, is an odorless, tasteless, and colorless gas that is slightly lighter than air," Clark said. "It is produced by the combustion of many fuel sources.

"The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. CO symptoms are often described as flu-like."

Clark said breathing in too much CO can make you pass out or even kill you. He said people who are sleeping can die from CO poisoning before they have any symptoms.

Some ways the Fredericktown Fire Department recommends to stay safe:

  • Check your CO detector. CO detectors should be installed to the manufacturers instructions and batteries tested monthly. CO detectors have a lifespan similar to that of a smoke detector.
  • Use approved indoor heating sources! Portable heaters that use fuels such as kerosene or propane emit CO and should only be used in well-ventilated areas. 
  • Make sure your gas appliances are vented properly. Horizontal vent pipes for appliances such as a water heater, should go up slightly as they go toward outdoors. This prevents CO from leaking if the joints or pipes aren't fitted tightly.
  • Have your chimney checked or cleaned every year. Wood heat can also produce CO. Chimneys can be blocked by debris. This can cause CO to build up inside your home or cabin.
  • Never burn charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal, red, gray, black or white, gives off CO.
  • Never use a gas range or oven for heating. Using a gas range or oven for heating can cause a build up of CO inside your home, cabin, or camper.
  • Never use generators inside a building. 

"Our department's goal is to keep the community safe," Clark said. "If we are able to provide and install carbon monoxide detectors for those who need them, that is a small act that could prevent a tragedy in a big way."

More information will be available once details of the Fredericktown Fire Department's carbon monoxide detector program is finalized. 

Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at vkemper@democratnewsonline.com

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