Rockport Fire Department Announces Carbon Monoxide Awareness Event
ROCKPORT -- Chief James Doyle reports that the Rockport Fire Department will host a Carbon Monoxide (CO) Awareness Event this month in an effort to assist residents with staying safe in their homes at all times.
Residents are invited to the Rockport Senior Center, 58 Broadway, on Nov. 16 at 10:30 a.m. for a presentation by Fire Captain Phillip Tanson and resident Hildy Feuerbach, whose sister and her family died from CO poisoning in 2008. A sign-up sheet will be available for those who would like a free alarm. Community members can also sign up to have firefighters install the device.
Carbon monoxide is a potentially deadly gas that is odorless, colorless, tasteless, and poisonous, often known as the “Invisible Killer." Many household items, including gas and oil-burning furnaces and boilers, gas ovens, portable generators, charcoal grills, fireplaces, pellet stoves, running vehicles and more produce CO.
“This month our goal is to make sure everyone in the community has working carbon monoxide alarms and understand the importance of protecting themselves,” Chief Doyle said. “We encourage all residents to attend our event later this month to learn more about carbon monoxide safety, ask questions and get an alarm if needed."
Initial symptoms of CO poisoning are often described as flu-like, minus the fever. They can include headache, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness. High concentration of CO can cause loss of consciousness and death. If you think you have the symptoms of CO poisoning, or your CO alarm is sounding, immediately get out of the building to get fresh air, and call the fire department from a neighbor's house or cell phone.
Captain Tanson, whose engine company out of Pigeon Cove responds to all CO-related calls, estimates the department is sent out on approximately 30 calls a year. He recalled that during this past winter's snowstorms, Rockport Fire responded to many potentially serious carbon monoxide calls, a number of them due to exhaust vents being covered with snow. In one case, carbon monoxide from an outside generator found its way into a home from a small opening in a garage door, resulting in very high levels of the poisonous gas inside the house.
"We are also available to all residents that need assistance installing the alarm in the appropriate area of their house, or if someone is unsure about the lifespan of their current alarm, we will inspect it," Captain Tanson said. "Do not hesitate to call the department for any carbon monoxide related questions or concerns."
Massachusetts law requires that every residential building, hotel and motel, and group daycare and after school center that contains fossil-fuel burning equipment, or has an enclosed or attached garage, have a carbon monoxide detector. Landlords must install CO alarms in each dwelling unit and inspect, test and maintain alarms at least once a year.
The Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security recommends residents implement the following steps to ensure safety:
• Install carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home, including habitable portions of basements and attics.
• Place CO alarms within 10 feet of bedrooms/sleeping areas
• Change the batteries according to the manufacturers recommendation and replace batteries after a prolonged power outage.
• Replace CO alarms every five to seven years, according to manufacturer's recommendations. Some newer models have a 10-year sealed lithium battery that does not need changing.
• Have a qualified service technician inspect your appliances yearly, before the heating season.
• Check vent pipes, flues and chimneys for leaks or blockages.
"These simple steps could save your life and you family's life," Feuerbach said. " Be proactive and don't wait for a tragedy to occur. That's our message."
If you have any questions concerning your CO detector or CO poisoning, or are in need of a CO alarm, please contact the Rockport Fire Department at 978-546-6750.