Communications Tools for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention

Deaths caused by exposure to carbon monoxide occur throughout the year, and fatalities are highest during the winter months, with most occurring in January (December is second highest). This is due to the increased use of gas-powered furnaces and portable generators, charcoal, and propane stoves or grills as alternative heating sources when furnace heat is not available.

Healthy housing advocates

  • Choose and use heating appliances wisely. Properly install, maintain, and ventilate all fuel-fired heating systems, water heaters, appliances, fireplaces, wood and coal stoves, and space heaters. These heating systems and appliances should be inspected annually by a qualified service technician.
  • Don’t operate a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline, or charcoal-burning device inside the home, basement, or garage or outside the home near a window.
  • Always ensure proper ventilation in any room where a fuel-burning appliance of any sort is used. If the stove or fireplace isn’t vented, don’t use it.
  • Do not use any gas appliance (such as a stove or range) for home heating purposes.
  • Do not burn any other type of fuel inside the home except firewood in an appropriately maintained and ventilated fireplace. This also means that grilling with charcoal briquettes indoors should be avoided.
  • Don’t let a vehicle idle inside a garage attached to a house, even if the garage door is open. Note that carbon monoxide can build up inside the car itself while operating if there are leaks in the exhaust system.
  • Install a battery-operated carbon monoxide detectors on each level of the home. If a detector sounds, leave immediately and call 911 from outside the structure. Seek prompt medical attention if you suspect CO poisoning and if you or someone in your household is feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseated.

Events

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Awareness Month
Carbon monoxide exposures occur in higher percentages during the winter months. In response, a 2015 Senate resolution designated January 2016 as the first National Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Awareness Month.

Tools

CO Poisoning Can Be Stopped: A Tool Kit
Created by the CDC’s National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network, this toolkit provides organizations with targeted and general messages about the Tracking Network, connections between health and the environment, and the connection between the Tracking Network and specific environmental public health issues. [pdf; CDC]

CDC Carbon Monoxide Toolkit
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed this suite of print and electronic resources to support the CO poisoning prevention efforts of public information officers working within state departments of health, emergency management and preparedness, and consumer safety at all levels of government. The messages and materials it contains can be used to develop effective communication activities or campaigns, but nongovernmental groups and others also may be interested in adopting these strategies and using these materials. [url; CDC]

Do you know of a great resource that no communications toolkit should be without? Tell us about it! Send your suggestions to Amanda Reddy or Christopher Bloom.