The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Editorials

January 6, 2014

Our View: CO detector a must for every winter

Why it matters This intense heating season means residents should be on alert for carbon monoxide poisoning risks.

The deaths of two area men are a wake-up call during this intense home-heating season.

Nathan Potter, 30, and Adam Jensen, 23, of rural Springfield died Dec. 20 after the furnace of the home they were in malfunctioned. The damper wasn’t working properly. The two suffered carbon monoxide poisoning.

Furnaces have been running long and hard for most Minnesota households this bitterly cold winter. Arctic temperatures mean many residents are using more heat than during a milder winter. Faulty combustion, gas leaks or blocked vents can easily turn heating deadly.

Carbon monoxide detectors have been available for years but sometimes seem to be taken less seriously than smoke detectors. Both are must-haves for homes. State law requires carbon monoxide detectors in all new and existing residential structures. A CO detector is required within 10 feet of all bedrooms.

One of the alarming characteristics about carbon monoxide poisoning is that it is often a silent killer, preying on its victims while they sleep. And if detectors aren’t in areas of the house where residents are going to hear them, they can’t be effective.

Each year about 14 Minnesota residents die from unintentional non-fire-related CO poisoning, and hundreds more end up seeking medical treatment because they’ve been exposed to CO, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

For those victims who are conscious when poisoning occurs, symptoms are headache, nausea and vomiting. If occupants suffer any of these, they shouldn’t assume everyone has a stomach bug and take to their beds. Make sure the CO detector is functioning properly.

Every winter carries its inherent dangers, including slippery roads, thin ice and hypothermia risks for those who work and play outdoors. Carbon monoxide poisoning in our heated homes is preventable. Furnaces may malfunction, but they don’t have to be killers if households take safety precautions.

It’s not too late to make a New Year’s resolution to make your home a safe place this heating season by making sure you have carbon monoxide detectors and checking that they are in working order.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Editorials
  • Our View: Keystone Pipeline delay political Why it matters: The State Department’s delay of its Keystone Pipeline decision is looking more political than practical

    April 22, 2014

  • Books can be crunchy fun for all Talk about extra-crunchy fun! If you haven't heard of Dave Pilkey's series of books that take kid humor in all of its silliness, grossness and creativity to the max, you have now. The "Captain Underpants" books topped the American Library Association

    April 21, 2014

  • Spear smile.jpg Spear column: Hoffner case tested first and right rules

    The biggest news stories carry the biggest risk

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • SCC leads the way on work ed The importance of higher education has never been more pronounced than with the changes occurring in our economy, especially in manufacturing. Bloomberg News noted that manufacturing accounts for 80 percent of our exports and for every one high-tech

    April 20, 2014

  • Our View: Y helps kids with skatepark Thumbs up to the YMCA and supporters working quickly to open an interim roller sport park. When fire destroyed Chesley Roller Sports Park in February, the Y made the commitment to rebuild it this summer and fall. But the Y also moved to give skateboa

    April 19, 2014

  • Our View: Make course evaluations public There's been a considerable and legitimate debate over the years about whether students at a public university should have access to teacher and course evaluations. Whenever there is a legitimate debate, it's hard to be in favor of less information a

    April 18, 2014

  • Our View: Drawing the line after Ukraine Why it matters: Tensions are ramping up once more as Russia tries to dictate to Ukraine.

    April 17, 2014

  • Our View: Costs key in health care access While more uninsured got coverage, costs must be controlled to sustain programs

    April 16, 2014

  • Our View: Saving lives trumps booking drug users Changes to the drug laws would save lives of those who overdose

    April 15, 2014

  • Pay attention! Distraction a problem A few years ago safety experts focused heavily on the dangers of people talking on cellphones while driving. Some states passed laws prohibiting the use of hand-held phones in cars as a result. Today much attention is on motorists typing on tiny hand

    April 14, 2014