Though it can’t be seen, heard or smelled, carbon monoxide poisoning — which is more prevalent during cold weather due to gas- and oil-burning furnaces and portable generators — can be deadly. But, it can also be prevented, according to the state Department of Health, which is urging Kentuckians to install and maintain carbon monoxide detectors.

In fact, of the more than 200 Kentucky residents who are sent to emergency rooms each year from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning, an average of 17 die, the latest data from the National Environmental Public Health Tracking Program indicates.

Though Kentucky law has required newly constructed one- and two-family dwellings, townhomes of less than three stories, apartment buildings, dormitories, adult, child care and assisted living facilities containing a gas appliance or attached to garage to have carbon monoxide detectors since 2011, much of Frankfort’s housing inventory is older and therefore may not be equipped.

Frankfort Fire Chief Wayne Briscoe told The State Journal his department handles 30-40 carbon monoxide runs a year, with most occurring between November and February.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages all homeowners to install and regularly check battery-operated or battery-backup CO detectors near every sleeping area in a residence.

Furnaces and wood-burning stoves should be inspected annually and homeowners should never run gasoline or propane heaters or grills inside or in an unventilated garage, as any heating system that burns fuels produces carbon monoxide.

Generators should be run at least 20-25 feet from the home and never indoors or in a garage. Vehicles should never be run in an enclosed space without a door or other proper ventilation.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include dizziness, generalized weakness, headache, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. Briscoe said a good indicator that CO may be to blame is if a person’s symptoms dissipate when going outside or leaving the room.

We believe carbon monoxide detectors should be required in all homes regardless of age and urge our readers to invest in the inexpensive device that saves lives.

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