Citizen Carbon Monoxide Safety and Local Government Communications
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 400 Americans die each year from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning not associated with fires. More than 20,000 visit the emergency room, and more than 4,000 are hospitalized. Fortunately, while these statistics are staggering, carbon monoxide poisoning is preventable in many cases with proper education and monitoring. Help keep citizens in your community safe from this silent killer. By offering education materials and making local resources available, you could help to save a life.
What is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can have fatal consequences if not properly monitored in the home. Carbon monoxide occurs naturally in fumes any time fuel is burned, which means it can be associated with automobiles, small engines, stoves, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, and furnaces. The poisonous gas can be deadly for humans and animals when it builds up undetected in homes, garages, and other areas.
Who is At Risk
Every citizen of any age is at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning, including the elderly, infants, and individuals with chronic heart disease, breathing problems, or anemia.
Educating Your Citizens
To help your citizens become aware of the risks associated with dangerous gas, start by educating the community regarding the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. Symptoms, often described as “flu-like,” may include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Chest pain
It is important to communicate to citizens that a greater risk for carbon monoxide-related deaths occurs at night. Individuals exposed to toxic fumes may die in their sleep before any symptoms are observable.
Some of the most vital steps to preventing carbon monoxide poisoning include:
- Use of a properly installed and operating carbon monoxide detector in the home, ideally near the bedrooms.
- Servicing home heating systems, water heaters, and other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances annually.
- Ensuring your gas appliances are properly vented.
- Sweeping and inspecting your chimney annually to ensure its opening is not blocked by debris.
- Never run a generator, especially to heat a home during a power outage, inside a basement, garage, or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open, unless the equipment is professionally installed and vented.
If you’re looking for channels to communicate with citizens regarding the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, or wondering how to provide helpful education, consider the following opportunities:
- Provide educational materials on your local government website.
- Post reminders at least twice a year to social media for citizens to check the batteries in their carbon monoxide detectors.
- Hand out carbon monoxide safety postcards and refrigerator magnets at community events.
- Post biannual alert messages prominently to your local government website’s homepage reminding citizens to check the batteries in their carbon monoxide detectors.
- Provide carbon monoxide safety information to new residents when they register with your county board of elections.
- Send routine notifications to citizens via multiple channels to remind them to ensure they have a functioning carbon monoxide detector in their home. A routine mass notification solution can help.
- Hold an annual information session for members of the community. In partnership with your local fire department, invite citizens to attend an annual educational event.
- Send biannual carbon monoxide safety reminders inside utility bills.
- Provide carbon monoxide safety reminder documentation to all citizens who register a pet in your community.
- Partner with local businesses such as real estate offices and hardware stores to make communication materials such as postcards and pamphlets available at their locations.
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