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Each year, unintentional poisoning from carbon monoxide (CO) - a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that can be lethal to humans and pets - kills at least 430 people in the U.S. and sends about 50,000 people in the U.S. to the hospital.

As part of Carrier's Healthy Homes Program, and to make people more aware of the dangers of CO poisoning and how to prevent it in both their two- and four-legged family members, Kidde is recognizing CO Awareness Week from November 1-7, 2020.

Residential smoke alarms

Kidde, a manufacturer of residential smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, fire extinguishers, and safety accessories, is part of Carrier Global Corporation, a global provider of healthy, safe and sustainable building and cold chain solutions.

The risk of unintentional CO poisoning increases when temperatures plunge and home heating systems run for longer than usual. However, while unintentional CO poisoning incidents usually spike during the winter, the autumn months still present dangers, whether they're from heating systems during an early snap of cold weather, late summer season grilling incidents or the misuse of generators in areas impacted by late-season hurricanes. In fact, 2020 has been a busy hurricane season, with 27 named storms to date, making the importance of CO safety even more important.

Preventing CO incidents

CO is often called the 'silent killer' because it's extremely difficult to detect without an alarm"

"CO is often called the 'silent killer' because it's extremely difficult to detect without an alarm," said Sharon Cooksey, marketing and communications manager, Kidde.

"That's why Kidde is committed to educating consumers about CO this week, and always, particularly as people remain at home as a result of COVID-19. According to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Americans were spending 90% of their time indoors, and 65% at home, even before the pandemic. It's important to understand how to prevent CO incidents, how to detect CO in your home, and how to recognize symptoms of CO poisoning in your family and pets."

Symptoms of CO poisoning

Like their owners, pets are susceptible to CO poisoning, too - yet, according to a survey commissioned by Kidde and conducted online by The Harris Poll, among more than 1,300 U.S. pet owners and more than 500 Canadian pet owners, 53% of U.S. pet owners surveyed are not confident they could identify the symptoms of CO poisoning in their pets.

Further, 36% of pet owners surveyed do not have or do not know if they have a CO alarm in their home, and 79% of U.S. pet owners surveyed do not know CO alarms should be replaced every 7 to 10 years, depending on the model.

Most common symptoms

To help protect people and pets from CO, Kidde shares the following advice:

  • 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.
  • Take steps to prevent CO poisoning at home, including:
    • Regularly inspect appliances. CO sources include natural gas, kerosene, propane, coal and gasoline. Have appliances checked regularly, such as stoves, furnaces, and washer-dryers, to ensure they're properly installed and not malfunctioning.
    • Keep chimneys clear of animal nests, leaves and residue to ensure proper venting. Have all fireplaces cleaned and inspected annually.
    • Never leave the car motor running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage - even if it's cold outside.
    • Only use grills and generators outside home, including attached garages (even if the garage door is open). Place grills at least 10 feet away from the home and generators at least 20 feet away from the home to help keep CO from entering the living spaces.
  • 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. If the alarm sounds or if one suspects CO at home, evacuate home immediately and call 911.
  • Replace alarms every 7-10 years. While testing alarms once a week and ensuring batteries are replaced are critical, replacing every alarm at a minimum of 7-10 years is paramount. If one cannot remember the date they installed the alarm, check the manufacturing date - commonly located on the back of the alarm - and add 7-10 years, depending on the model.
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