Tips to Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning With Summer Activities
Often when we talk about carbon monoxide poisoning, it’s winter, and we’re warning folks about heat vents plugged with snow and the correct usage of alternate heat sources. But there are plenty of hazards in warmer weather, too. So here’s a list of things to watch out for from the Maine CDC.
Lots of Maine families will be heading to the lakes and ponds this weekend to reopen their camps. Bedding will be shaken out or cleaned. Floors will be scrubbed. And probably more than one mousetrap will be emptied!
But, before you get to all that, do a quick safety check of the building. Make sure vents for propane-powered appliances are working correctly. Something as simple as falling ice or heavy snow could have knocked a vent cover off-kilter, so it’s not working properly.
It’s also a good idea to make sure you have a CO Detector in the camp. And if you already have one, now’s the perfect time for fresh batteries.
Off-roading, or ‘mudding’ can be a lot of fun! Make sure you have permission to use the property you’re on. And be sure to have an escape plan in case you get stuck!
If you do get mired, it’s important to immediately check to see if the exhaust is blocked. If it is, carbon monoxide levels could build up to deadly levels in just a few minutes.
If you find that it’s clogged or blocked, get everyone out of the vehicle as soon as possible and get as much fresh air into it as possible. Climbing back in too soon could have deadly results.
Everyone’s working on engines this time of year, whether it’s your boat, lawnmower, or car. And sometimes, it seems convenient to do those repairs inside a garage or shed. You’re undercover if it starts to rain. But it can also be deadly.
Never leave vehicles or any gas-powered motors running inside a garage or other enclosed space, even if you leave the doors open. And that includes the huge garage doors. Even though it seems like it would be enough, State Toxicologist Andy Smith says, it really isn’t. The buildup of carbon monoxide happens quickly and can be deadly. It’s much safer to just work on the engines outside.
There’s nothing quite like taking off in a boat on a warm, sunny day. The breeze in your hair, the spray of water on your face, and the sun warming your skin. But, again, you want to be aware of a big hazard with CO poisoning.
If you’re stopping to swim, the best suggestion is to turn the boat off completely. And, if you’re going to keep the motor running, stay away from the back of the boat, where you could be breathing in the exhaust. In addition, avoid hanging out on the back platform when the motor’s running.
Nothing says summer like the smell of burgers on the grill. They’re delicious! And a barbecue is a great way to get the family together for some fun.
But, be sure, when using a charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gas or charcoal-burning device, that you’re using them outside. Never operate these appliances inside a camp, tent, home, enclosed porch, or garage. In addition, keep them away from windows or doors, where the exhaust could go inside the house.
If You Think You’ve Been Poisoned…
Get out! Literally. If the exposure is in the house, go outside and call 911. If it’s in your garage, go outside and call 911. If it’s in your truck that’s stuck in the mud….well….you get the idea.
Symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, and confusion. However, symptoms do not include fever. If the exposure is very severe, it can cause coma and even death.
Again, and we can’t say this enough, if you think you’ve been exposed, get into the fresh air and call 911. And, as always, your best defense against exposure to carbon monoxide is a working CO detector, with a battery backup, so it even works when the power goes out.
Have a wonderful and safe Memorial weekend!