Big Bear, CA – Cool fall weather has arrived, winter is fast approaching, and Big Bear Fire Department encourages everyone to practice safe winter heating. Big Bear Valley residents and tourists alike will soon be lighting pilot lights and finding other ways to keep warm during the chill of the season. When not functioning properly, the heating appliances that are keeping us warm, can turn deadly quickly.
“Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless and can kill its victims while they’re sleeping. People don’t realize they are being poisoned,” according to Mike Maltby, Assistant Chief with Big Bear Fire Department. “The best way to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning is to have gas-fed, flame producing appliances serviced annually by a professional, in addition to installing
carbon monoxide (CO) detectors.”
Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that produces flu-like symptoms in its victims such as severe headaches, dizziness, mental confusion, nausea and/or faintness. If carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected, get fresh air immediately, call 9-1-1 and seek medical attention as soon as possible.
California state law requires CO detectors be placed in the home outside sleeping areas, as well as on each level of the home. It is better to be safe than sorry. If there is a question on the number of CO detectors required, err on the side of more. CO detectors are fairly inexpensive and can
be purchased locally.
CO detectors should be installed and maintained per manufacturer’s instructions. Generally, they can be installed on a wall or a ceiling. However, they should not be on the wall within 6 inches of the ceiling. This “pocket” is considered dead air that does not circulate well with the rest of
the air in the house. It is also a good idea to place detectors near the home’s conventional heating source. CO detectors should be tested monthly and replaced every 5–7 years. Purchase only those detectors bearing the seal of Underwriters Laboratory (UL).
Other ways to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning include visually inspecting your water heater, furnace and clothes dryer flues for signs of damage or obstruction. Birds and squirrels are known for building nests or hiding food in in the exhaust flues. This can prevent proper drafting of exhaust gases. Also, never use barbecues indoors. Charcoal gives off a lethal amount of carbon monoxide that is normally dissipated in the outdoor air. Kerosene and propane heaters can also produce these deadly gases and are prohibited from use in the home.
For additional information on this or other fire and life safety topics, contact Big Bear Fire Department at www.bigbearfire.org or (909) 866-7566.