Editorial Roundup: Carbon monoxide is a silent menace

Published 8:50 pm Tuesday, January 4, 2022

As winter’s grip grabs harder, the dangers of carbon monoxide deaths intensify as we seal up our homes against the cold.

The loss of a Moorhead family to carbon monoxide poisoning Dec. 18 draws attention to the silent menace that the gas is. Investigators, who have not concluded their work, said that the children were sleeping in their beds when they died.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, tasteless and odorless gas that can be emitted by anything burning with a flame, such as stoves, furnaces and water heaters. A concentration of CO indoors can cause severe illness or death.

An added complication in recent years is that some of the carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms can mimic those of COVID-19, including headache, fatigue, dizziness and shortness of breath. Testing for COVID makes sense, but so does checking CO levels and making sure detectors are functioning.

Minnesota law requires that CO detectors be installed within 10 feet of every bedroom.

Of course, no one from the state is going door to door to make sure the law is followed, so it’s up to residents to make sure they adhere to the requirement for the sake of themselves and loved ones in the home. Without being plugged in or supplied with fresh batteries, the detectors — even if installed — don’t do any good. Pay attention to the age of the detectors because most need to be replaced every five to seven years.

Along with making sure detectors are in working condition, fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces should be checked by a professional once a year to make sure they’re properly vented. Chimney flues also should be checked for blockage, and vehicles should never be kept running in enclosed garages. The North Mankato Fire Department also points out that even fish houses should have them if they contain a heating unit that uses combustion.

Winter can be a trying time as the months of cold trudge on, but taking measures to be safe inside our homes during the heating season is necessary to make sure everyone can look forward to spring.

Mankato Free Press, Jan. 3

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Editorials from newspapers around the state of Minnesota.

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