Green Township, IN – Emergency officials warned area residents of risks of carbon monoxide poisoning in the wake of the death of a Green Township man, attributed to exposure to the colorless, odorless and tasteless gas in his home.
State police this week reported that Donald Keith, 67, was found dead of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning Dec. 5 at 2138 Cypress Road.
Always follow a manufacturer’s instructions for installation of a fuel-burning appliance, cautioned John Pividori of the Indiana County Emergency Management Agency. Only use heaters or stoves within the scope of their recommendations, and make sure the vent is functioning properly.
The two biggest causes we see are improper use of heaters or improperly maintained furnaces and gas appliances, said Assistant Chief James Hopkins III of the Commodore Fire Department, front-line emergency responder.
Many of the warnings are timely with the advent of winter and more frequent use of furnaces, including portable heating sources.
Some bits of advice are sound all year.
Don’t warm up a car in an attached garage at your home, Pividori recommended. Make sure your home has a carbon monoxide detector. Has it been tested?
The biggest recommendation is to have detectors, to change the batteries and take the warnings seriously, Hopkins said. Combination smoke and CO detectors are very common now.
Indiana County Emergency Management publicizes home safety tips on its social media pages to help county residents be safe, he said. Pividori also encouraged residents to visit the state’s emergency prevention website, www.ready.pa.gov/Pages/default.aspx, for guides to preventing and responding to hazards.
Flulike symptoms commonly are an early sign of carbon monoxide poisoning. A dull headache, muscle weakness, dizziness, nausea and vomiting are signs as well, according to the Mayo Clinic. So are displays of confusion, blurred vision, shortness of breath and loss of consciousness.
Every year, at least 430 people die in the U.S. from accidental CO poisoning. Approximately 50,000 people in the U.S. visit the emergency department each year due to accidental CO poisoning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
From 2010 to 2015, a total of 2,244 deaths resulted from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning, with the highest numbers of deaths each year occurring in winter months, the CDC reported. In 2015, a total of 393 deaths resulting from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning occurred, with 36 percent of the deaths occurring in December, January and February.