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December 5, 2011

Safety Monday

With winter weather approaching, now is a good time to consider ways to keep safe in the home. In addition to working smoke alarms, every home should have at least one battery-operated carbon monoxide detector.

“Carbon monoxide, or CO, is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death,” according to Eileen McDonald, MS, associate scientist with the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for Injury Research and Policy. “Appliances that burn fuel, particularly ones that provide heat, are a main source of CO, so the risk of CO poisoning is heightened during the colder months. In addition to placing detectors near every sleeping area, it’s important to have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.”

More than 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning each year, more than 20,000 visit the emergency room and more than 4,000 are hospitalized. From 2008 through 2009, the Baltimore City Fire Department responded to more than 3,600 CO poisoning calls. In fact, the burden of CO poisoning in Baltimore was an impetus behind a recent City Council ordinance that went into effect in March requiring carbon monoxide (CO) detectors to be installed in all City residential dwellings, hotels and buildings used for living or sleeping.

Every Monday, the Johns Hopkins Healthy Monday Project, part of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, offers tips for preventing disease and injury, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Check back each week for new tips or visit our archive.