Cooler weather has arrived in Indiana, and Hoosiers have started using heating equipment to help warm their homes. While such equipment can be an effective means of heating homes, they can also pose a safety risk if not properly used.
The Indiana State Fire Marshal's Office is encouraging all Hoosiers to use heating equipment with extra caution to avoid starting a fire or exposing themselves to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.
In addition to a smoke alarm, Indiana Fire Marshal Jim Greeson also recommends having a carbon monoxide detector at home if any types of fuel (kerosene, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) are used for heating or cooking.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and nonirritating gas created when these fuels burn incompletely.
It is the number one cause of accidental poisoning in the United States and can cause similar symptoms to the common cold or flu, such as headaches, nausea and dizziness.
"The dangers of carbon monoxide exposure depend on a number of factors, including a person's health and activity level," said Greeson. "Small children, pregnant women, and those with health conditions can be severely affected by smaller amounts of carbon monoxide than healthy adults."
Hoosiers should follow these recommendations for carbon monoxide detectors:
•Install in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home.
•Follow the manufacturer's instructions for placement and mounting height.
•Choose a CO alarm that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
•Call your local fire department's non-emergency number to find out what number to call if the CO alarm sounds.
•Test CO alarms at least once a month, replace them according to the manufacturer's instructions.
•If the CO alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door.
•Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for. Call for help from a fresh air location and stay there until emergency personnel arrive.
Some manufacturers sell combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Make sure all fuel-burning equipment is properly ventilated to the outside. Generators should never be operated indoors, that includes attached garages. They should be used outside away from windows and doors.