The Andover Health Division and Andover Fire Rescue are warning residents to educate themselves on the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Annually, about 430 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning and 50,000 visit the emergency room from exposure to the invisible, odorless, tasteless, poisonous gas according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Symptons of carbon monoxide exposure include headaches, nausea, dizziness, confusion, fainting, unconsciousness, and can be fatal.
Carbon monoxide has no smell, is colorless, has no taste, and is poisonous. The gas is created anytime fuel is burned, like gas, oil, kerosene, wood, and charcoal. Leaks should be reported to the fire department from a cell phone or a neighbors' phone, outside and away from the leak.
The Massachusetts Department of Fire services has a list of precautions they recommend people take to protect themselves from carbon monoxide poisoning.
"We stress the importance of these safety tips every year because carbon monoxide poisoning is completely preventable," said Thomas Carbone, Andover Director of Public Health. "Please, carefully consider these tips and make sure that your homes and businesses are equipped with properly functioning CO detectors to prevent tragedy this season."
The Massachusetts Department of Fire recommends that people have a qualified service technician inspect appliances annually. It is recommended that people inspect vent pipes, flues, and chimneys for any leaks or blockages and clear snow from furnaces and dryer exhaust vents.
The Massachusetts Department of Fire services also warns people to be cautious when shoveling vehicles out that the tail pipe and undercarriage is free of snow before the engine is turned on, and that vehicles should not be left running inside a garage even with an open door.
People should also store charcoal grills and gasoline powered engines including generators, chain saws, blowers, weed trimmers, mowers, or snowblowers outside, facing away from windows and doors.
"All residents absolutely must take these precautions seriously to avoid becoming a victim of this deadly gas," said Andover Fire Chief Michael Mansfield. "Please call the fire department if you have any questions about how to obtain an alarm or to make sure they are functioning properly."
It is advised that a gas oven should never be used to heat a home.
It is recommended that carbon monoxide alarms by installed on every level of a home, but not in a garage or near a stove, a fireplace, windows, doors, very hot places, very cold places, or very damp areas, or "dead air spaces" like corners and ceiling peaks.
Carbon monoxide alarms should be installed near bedrooms, however, and replaced every five to seven years. Back up batteries should be examined after a long power outage.
Furnaces, water heaters, chimneys, wood stoves, grills, camping stoves, gas ovens, gas snow removal, and yard equipment machines can all generate carbon monoxide.
To learn more about carbon monoxide poisoning, visit the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services website at www.mass.gov/orgs/department-of-fire-services.
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