Federal reports says Nebraska has one of the highest rates of carbon monoxide deaths in the nation, while January and February are among the deadliest months for the poisonings. The best protection is to have a CO detector.
Home safety advocate Bob Platts says if you don’t recall how long ago you bought your detector, it’s probably due to be replaced.
Carbon monoxide detectors, similar to smoke detectors, have a shelf life of about five years and he’s guessing there are a number of detectors in our homes that are out of date. Platts says if you’re going to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home, make sure it’s installed in a proper place.
He suggests mounting the detector in a sleeping area or a common area like a hallway between bedrooms. He says you should hang it about five feet off the floor because that’s about the level that CO is mixing with air. Platts says you won’t be able to notice carbon monoxide in your home without a detector. It’s colorless and odorless and mixes with air.
Twenty-five states have statutes that require carbon monoxide detectors in certain residential buildings, but Nebraska is not one of them.
Members of five Nebraska families suffered carbon monoxide poisoning during a weekend ski trip in Colorado earlier this month. Reports say the gas came from a faulty furnace in the house where they were staying.
The Nebraska Regional Poison Center received 310 calls about the poisonous gas in 2013.
A person who has carbon monoxide poisoning can have flu-like symptoms, which can be deceiving in the winter months when many people are already sick.
Carbon monoxide cases typically happen when the weather turns cold and people use their furnaces more, but Platts says carbon monoxide poisoning isn’t just something that happens in the winter as they’ve had calls in the every month of the year.
He says it’s produced by fossil fuels, so not only can it be produced by a gas furnace but also by a gas stove or gas water heater. In the summer, if people are grilling in their garage, it can produce carbon monoxide. Also during the winter, if people are warming up their car in the garage, that can also produce CO issues.