As temperatures continue to fall, the New Mexico Department of Health and the New Mexico Poison and Drug Information Center remind New Mexicans that they can prevent carbon monoxide poisoning by taking a few protection measures.
“As it gets colder, we start seeing more carbon monoxide poisonings,” said NMDOH Cabinet Secretary Kathy Kunkel. “To prepare for winter weather, New Mexicans should make sure their heat sources and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order.”
In 2018, carbon monoxide poisoning sent 187 people to the emergency room in New Mexico according to data from the New Mexico Environmental Public Health Tracking Program. These trips to the ER for carbon monoxide poisoning are preventable when people are prepared.
Any heating system that burns fuel produces carbon monoxide. To protect yourself and your family from carbon monoxide poisoning, NM EPHT offers these safety tips:
• Have your furnaces, wood-burning stoves, chimneys and ventilation systems inspected annually by a professional to make sure these heating system components are functionally sound and vent properly to the outside. This should be done for homes and buildings including structures used for spiritual and religious purposes and outdoor recreation.
• Don’t use any malfunctioning heating products.
• Make sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors in your home, as well as battery operated detectors for outdoor use such as in RVs, cabins, barns, and boats. The NM EPHT website, nmtracking.org, has tips for selecting detectors.
• Never run a gasoline or propane heater or a grill (gas or charcoal) inside your home or in an unventilated garage, barn or other buildings and structures, and tents.
• Generators should be run at a safe distance (at least 20 feet) from the home.
• Never run a car in an enclosed space.
• If you suspect you may be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, or if your detector sounds an alarm, head outside immediately for fresh air and call 911.
Visit the New Mexico Environmental Public Health Tracking Program’s website for more information about carbon monoxide poisoning, symptoms, and for practical information at mtracking.org/health/poisonings/CarbonMonoxidePoisoning.html. Call the NMPDIC at 1-800-222-1222 for guidance on responding to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is a reportable (notifiable) condition in the state of New Mexico. Hospitals, clinics, practitioners and first responders should immediately report any suspected carbon monoxide poisoning by calling 505-827-0006.