ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) - As temperatures begin to fall, the St. Louis Department of Health is encouraging residents to take precautions against carbon monoxide poisoning.
"Our health inspectors cite the improper use of gas stoves or generators to warm homes without proper ventilation as a common culprit of harmful carbon monoxide," said St. Louis Health Director Pamela Walker.
Carbon monoxide or CO is a colorless, odorless gas that is fatal if inhaled over a short period of time. The Center of Disease Control says the gas is produced by the burning of natural gas, gasoline, charcoal, kerosene, oil, and wood.
Moderate exposure to CO can cause flu like symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, vomiting, headaches, shortness of breath, chest pains, disorientation, and confusion. High levels can result in in a loss of consciousness and even death in only a span of a few minutes.
The Health Department is advising residents to take several steps to prevent poisoning.
- Have your heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year to ensure proper ventilation and to repair leaks.
- Have your vehicle exhaust system inspected for leaks
- Keep a window cracked open if running heat in a car
- Install a carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home; change the batteries every spring and fall.
- In the event of a power failure, place generators outdoors and at least 20 feet away from the home, doors, or windows.
Carbon monoxide detectors are the best way to prevent CO poisoning. The St. Louis Fire Department is providing free CO detectors while supplies last. If interested, please contact Captain Killingsworth at KillingsworthW@stlouis-mo.gov. Please provide your name, address, zip code, phone number, and number of occupants in your home.