The Ottumwa Courier

Ottumwa

January 3, 2013

CO poisoning can affect anyone

Simple, inexpensive prevention can keep your family safe

OTTUMWA — The winter months are traditionally the most dangerous time for carbon monoxide poisoning. The silent threat increases when home owners turn on their furnaces and run leaking appliances in enclosed spaces.

Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning occurs after excessive inhalation of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas, but being colorless, odorless and tasteless, it is very difficult for people to detect.

Symptoms of mild CO poisoning include lightheadedness, confusion, headaches, vertigo and flu-like effects. On a larger scale, prolonged exposure can lead to toxicity of the central nervous system, heart issues and even death.

Ottumwa Fire Chief Tony Miller says the stealth of CO poisoning is why it can be so deadly.

“The problem really is that you don’t know that you’re being poisoned,” he explained. “You’ll have flu-like symptoms, especially drowsiness, and it will put you into a deeper sleep. That’s the danger.”

In addition to appliances, other sources of carbon monoxide include cigarette smoke, house fires, faulty furnaces, heaters, wood-burning stoves, internal combustion vehicle exhaust, electrical generators, propane-fueled equipment such as portable stoves and gasoline-powered tools. Exposure becomes even more extreme when equipment is used in buildings or semi-enclosed spaces.

During the winter months, residents will close up their home against the cold, Miller said, preventing the toxic vapors from escaping to the outside. Any CO leak will be trapped inside instead of combining with fresh air or finding some other way to leave the building safely.

Miller says there are two simple, inexpensive solutions to CO poisoning. Because this poisoning can affect anyone who has a gas appliance, water heater or furnace, it’s especially important to make sure they’re all in good working order.

“Have a professional come take a look and make sure they’re working properly. A cracked heat exchange leads to leaks. If you don’t get them checked out, you’ll have problems,” he said.

The fire department has always recommended smoke detectors, and CO monitors are also a great preventative measure. They have an alarm similar to smoke detectors but will make a different sound to alert residents to excessive levels of CO. For $20-$50, a combination smoke detector and CO monitor can be the first line of defense against CO poisoning.

“We don’t see it a lot in Ottumwa, but nationwide it’s an issue. You’ll read about whole families who died of carbon monoxide poisoning because they didn’t have detectors,” Miller said. “Sometimes cost is an issue, but it’s well worth it.”

The Ottumwa Fire Department will check on 40-50 CO monitor alarms each year, Miller says. Just like they’ll check on the situation when a smoke detector goes off, they will also perform CO checks.

“We have a detector to check for carbon monoxide, and if it’s higher than a certain level, we’ll call the gas company,” Miller said. “We’re happy to come out and check, and we’ll do what we can. Better safe than sorry.”

1
Text Only
Ottumwa
  • Parks Dept. has long list of projects

    OTTUMWA — The Parks and Recreation Department has approved a list of capital improvements for the next two years that includes the installation of handicapped-accessible swings and new park bathrooms.

    July 9, 2014

  • 0710 Farmers Market Color Photo 1 -L -M Fresh food improves community

    OTTUMWA — Every summer across the Midwest, food stands pop up on gravel roads, and farmers markets are filled with a variety of home-grown products. Finding a fresh selection of healthy greens and juicy fruits isn't as hard as you might think. Accord

    July 9, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0703 OTT Heart boy photo A Heartfelt Miracle OTTUMWA — It’s funny how wishes can change so completely in just a few weeks. But laughter wasn’t the reaction of Jeff and Mary Penrod.The Ottumwa couple’s son, Brandon, was 18 years old when, in February, Mary took him to the Pella clinic to get loo

    July 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0703 OTT River Hills parking lot color photo -L -T River Hills expansion progresses

    OTTUMWA — Expanding River Hills Community Health Center downtown continues to be a priority with the Ottumwa City Council. Earlier this week, the council authorized city staff to survey the property, prepare a draft developers agreement as well as pr

    July 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Street repair program begins OTTUMWA — If you think roadwork projects in the city of Ottumwa are just about complete, think again. This week, the Ottumwa City Council awarded its preventative maintenance contract for sealing cracks in asphalt and concrete pavement roads througho

    July 2, 2014

  • A new look OTTUMWA — The 300 block of East Main Street in Ottumwa will be getting a facelift. During a public hearing earlier this week, the Ottumwa City Council gave its OK to the plans and specifications to renovate 15 buildings’ storefronts in downtown Ottum

    July 2, 2014

  • City won't tolerate bad behavior

    OTTUMWA — A newly designed policy to establish standards of behavior was presented to Ottumwa City Council on Tuesday night.The new policy’s introduction on Tuesday, demands city staff and elected officials exhibit professional behavior when they int

    July 1, 2014

  • 0702 OTT library grant color photo -T -L -M Ottumwa Public Library updates genealogy room

    OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa Public Library is the recipient of a Bright Ideas Community Enrichment Fund Grant from the Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation. The Friends of the Ottumwa Public Library group gave $5,520 to put toward a new microfilm reader. The

    July 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0625 OTT Riverfront Renaissance color photo -L -M Riverfront Renaissance begins mapping out ideas

    OTTUMWA — It was serious work to play with stickers and maps Tuesday evening. Concentration was on more than 70 faces as colored dots found their way up and down several maps of the river flowing through downtown Ottumwa. The Ottumwa Regional Legacy

    June 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0624 OTT Marine photos Marine mourned by family

    OTTUMWA --- Adam Wolff's extended family was able to enjoy a bit of time with him before he deployed. "He came back in March, after his [Marine Corps advanced] schooling in North Carolina," said his sister, Angela Malone. "We had a dinner for him, a

    June 23, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National