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As we turn back the clocks Sunday, Nov. 3 for Daylight Saving Time and temperatures continue to fall, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is reminding residents to take action to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

“As it gets colder, we start seeing more carbon monoxide poisonings,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health for MDHHS. “To prepare for winter weather, Michiganders should make sure their heat sources and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order.”

On average, 145 people are hospitalized for carbon monoxide poisoning each year in Michigan, according to data from the MDHHS Michigan Environmental Public Health Tracking Program (MiTracking). These hospitalizations are preventable when people are prepared.

To protect yourself and your family from carbon monoxide, follow these safety tips:

  • Make sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors. Detectors on every level of your home, including the basement, are strongly recommended. Detectors can be purchased at most hardware and big box stores. Daylight Saving Time is a good time each year to replace the batteries in your detector and push the “Test” button to be sure it’s working properly. Replace your detector every five years or according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have your furnace or wood-burning stove inspected annually. Hire a professional to make sure it is functionally sound and vents properly outside the home.
  • Never run a gasoline or propane heater, or a grill (gas or charcoal) inside your home or in an unventilated garage. Any heating system that burns fuel produces carbon monoxide. Use a battery-powered detector where you have fuel burning devices but no electric outlets, such as in tents, cabins, RVs and boats with enclosed cabins.
  • Generators should be run at a safe distance (at least 20 feet) from the home. Never run a generator in the home or garage, or right next to windows or doors.
  • Never run a car in an enclosed space. If a vehicle is running, you must have a door open to the outside.

At high levels, carbon monoxide can cause death within minutes. Symptoms of overexposure to carbon monoxide include headache, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea and confusion. If you suspect you may be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, or your detector sounds an alarm, head outside immediately for fresh air and call 911.

Visit Michigan.gov/MiTracking for more information about carbon monoxide poisoning.