As the use of indoor heating increases during winter or cold season, so does the risk of monoxide poisoning. In almost 20,000 carbon monoxide report received by firefighters about 25% of these involved the presence of dangerous levels of toxic gas.
“I think in this cold snap, we’re going to see a lot of carbon monoxide incidents,” said Jennifer Mieth, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Fire Services. “Hopefully people have working alarms and are protected from this silent killer.”
According to her heaters are the number one reason why there’s a rash of increased level of carbon dioxide gasses in the home. It’s impossible to determine the presence of the lethal gas without an alarm. It is colorless and odorless which means they are invisible to the eyes and undetected by the nose.
In 2013 alone, Massachusetts fire departments received calls for assistance to 19,524 carbon monoxide incidents. The impossible to detect highly poisonous gas was present in 4, 884 in the homes of those who seek for assistance.
In a recent incident involving Burlington residents which happened last January, a couple were admitted to a hospital due to carbon monoxide poisoning. The wife didn’t mind the CO alarm going off thinking it was just malfunctioning. She bought a replacement alarm and the same thing happened after it was installed. It was then she realized that they were in serious trouble.
“The one message I would really convey to people is carbon monoxide alarms rarely malfunction,” Mieth said. “If you’re carbon monoxide alarm is sounding, you should get your coat, phone and car keys, and get outside and call 911.”
The state law require for every home to install carbon monoxide alarm but the devices remain reliable only for 5 to 10 years according to Meth.
The 2006 law helped a lot in helping people who were having real problems with carbon monoxide leaks, however because of outdated alarm system, they also received a lot of false alarms, Framingham Deputy Fire Chief/Fire Marshal Joe Hicks said.
“Many of these original carbon monoxide detectors are dying,” said Hicks. “There has been a rash of false alarms. We just have to educate people that they need to change them.”