SIDNEY – With a chill in the air last week, furnaces started to kick on throughout Shelby County, which raises the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Nationally more than 50,000 people are hospitalized annually and approximately 430 people die each year because of carbon monoxide poisoning, Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart said during his weekly interview.
“It’s colorless. It’s odorless. It’s tasteless,” Lenhart said. “But it’s very toxic.
“We have locally, unfortunately, every once in a while, a person who is under the influence of carbon monoxide.”
Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause people to feel dizzy, can cause headaches and can cause flu-like symptoms.
“In extreme cases, high levels can result in brain damage and/or death,” Lenhart said.
The elderly are the most susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning, but anyone can be affected. It can be especially dangerous when people are asleep and may not realize they’ve been poisoned.
To protect against carbon monoxide poisoning, ensure that chimneys and vents are free of debris.
“Traditionally they come from a chimney that’s plugged up by a bird’s nest or soot in a chimney,” Lenhart said, adding that snow and ice also can plug vents.
The sheriff said gas grills should never be used inside a garage as carbon monoxide can build. Also, never use a grill to heat a space.
Range top burners shouldn’t be used to heat a space either, Lenhart said, and portable outdoor heaters shouldn’t be used inside a building.
“Always follow manufacturers’ instructions,” Lenhart said. “Read the manual and the safety stuff on that.”
Carbon monoxide detectors are available and relatively inexpensive, Lenhart said.
Lenhart also advised people to be aware of natural gas leaks.
“You can smell natural gas or propane,” he said. “It’s going to smell like garbage, sewage, skunk, a very unpleasant smell.
“It is the season to be watching that and to be careful.”
The Sidney Daily News conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.