Devastation from Winter Storm Uri continues in Texas. In Harris County, the state’s most populous county and home to Houston, hundreds of cases of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning have been reported and thousands remain without power. In response, Kidde, in partnership with KTRK ABC-13 Houston, is donating 750 CO alarms and 250 smoke alarms to the Houston Fire Department as part of the Operation Save A Life program, a public service initiative designed to educate consumers on the dangers of fire and CO poisoning.
Houston city and metro area residents can request an alarm by calling their local fire department. Kidde is a foremost manufacturer of residential smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, fire extinguishers, and safety accessories, and is a part of Carrier Global Corporation, the foremost global provider of healthy, safe, and sustainable building and cold chain solutions.
CO and Fire Hazards
People should remain mindful of potential CO and fire dangers and how to avoid them Often called “the silent killer,” CO is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that can be lethal to humans and pets. The risk of unintentional CO poisoning increases when temperatures plunge and home heating systems run for longer than usual. CO poisoning can also result when appliances that use CO-producing sources – including natural gas, kerosene, propane, coal, and gasoline – are used incorrectly or malfunction.
"During a power outage, people often turn to alternative ways to heat and light their homes but if used incorrectly, it can have devastating effects,” said Sharon Cooksey, Marketing and Communications Manager for Kidde. “It’s extremely important that people remain mindful of potential CO and fire dangers and how to avoid them, which includes installing CO alarms throughout the home.”
To help protect people and pets from CO and fire hazards before, during, and after a winter storm, Kidde shares the following advice:
- Before a storm, test all smoke and CO alarms and fire extinguisher gauges to ensure your home fire safety equipment is properly working. Replace if necessary.
- Place generators outdoors. Install your generator outdoors at least 20 feet from the home with the exhaust pointing away from the house. Only operate the generator outdoors in a well-ventilated dry area, away from air intakes to the home, and protected from direct exposure to rain. Follow the manufacturers’ instructions when using generators.
- Consider flameless candles. A safe alternative to traditional wick candles is battery-operated flameless candles. If using traditional candles, keep them at least 12 inches from anything flammable. Extinguish all candles when leaving a room or the house, or when going to sleep.
- Grill outdoors only. Place your grill at least 10 feet from the home and make sure it is clear of any vents that could carry CO into the home.
- The garage is not a CO-free space. Gasoline-powered cars can emit CO, even with the door open. Move running or to idle cars at least 20 feet away from the home.
- Know the signs of CO poisoning. The most common symptoms of CO poisoning in people often mirror those of the common flu and include things like headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. In pets, initial symptoms include nausea/vomiting, dizziness, or labored breathing, among others. If your CO alarm sounds or you suspect CO in your home, evacuate your home immediately and call 911.
- Install CO alarms throughout the home. CO can travel anywhere in the home – even through drywall – so most often, one alarm is not enough. It's best to install CO alarms throughout the entire home with at least one on every level and consider including in living areas, bedrooms, and hallways outside sleeping areas.
- Replace alarms after 7-10 years, depending on the model. While testing alarms once a week and ensuring batteries are replaced are critical steps, replacing every alarm at a minimum of 7-10 years is paramount. If you cannot remember the date you installed your alarms, simply check the manufacturing date – commonly located on the back of the alarm – and add 7-10 years, depending on the model. Please check your manufacturer's user guide.