NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STATE FIRE MARSHALS
A Strong United Voice for Fire Prevention
Claiming 400 Lives Annually, the NASFM is Leading Efforts to Raise Awareness of the “Invisible Killer”: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon Monoxide poisoning is a proven dangerous threat, claiming approximately 450 lives annually, with another 21,000 Americans sent to emergency rooms due to unintentional poisonings, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM), along with Safe Kids, has established the Awareness Week and is leading the charge to bring increased awareness to this “Invisible Killer.” Per the CDC, CO poisoning is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America, and because CO is an odorless, tasteless and colorless gas, many people are initially unaware they are even being poisoned.
“It’s important we all pay close attention to the potentially fatal effects of CO poisoning,” said NASFM President and Florida Director of the Division of State Fire Marshals, Julius Halas. “especially as we all begin to use home heating devices as colder weather approaches.”
CO is produced anytime a fuel is burned. Potential sources of CO include gas or oil furnaces, water heaters, space heaters, clothes dryers, barbecue grills, fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, gas ovens, generators, and car exhaust fumes. CO bonds to hemoglobin in red blood cells and prevents oxygen from reaching vital organs, such as the brain and heart, causing dizziness, headache, and other flu-like symptoms. At high concentration levels, CO can cause loss of consciousness and even death, and people who are sleeping or intoxicated are more susceptible to succumbing to CO poisoning.
“Winter can be a deadly time when it comes to CO poisoning, so it’s important to take steps now to protect your family,” Browning said. “During the winter months, we are all more likely to use fireplaces, propane heaters and furnaces to help heat our homes.”
If not properly ventilated and maintained, t NASFM reminds you fuel-burning appliances can emit deadly levels of CO. Additionally, idling your vehicle or running a gas-powered generator in an attached garage can also lead to increased levels of CO, which allow fumes to seep into your home through doors or floorboards. “The only safe way to detect CO is with a properly functioning and maintained CO alarm,” added Browning.
Distinguished fire safety experts, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), recommend installing a CO alarm on every level of the home and near sleeping areas. Other safety tips include:
For more information about National CO Awareness Week, including tips and best practices on how to protect you and your family from the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, visit www.carbonmonoxidefacts.com.
The principal membership of the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) comprises the senior fire officials in the United States and their top deputies. The primary mission of NASFM is to protect human life, property and the environment from fire and related hazards. A secondary mission of NASFM is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of State Fire Marshals’ operations. In addition to its principal membership, NASFM has several categories of membership to allow companies, associations, academic and research institutions, and individuals who support NASFM’s mission to contribute in meaningful ways. Learn more about NASFM and its issues at http://www.firemarshals.org.
The events in Parkland, Florida are tragic and heartbreaking. A senseless attack on students, teachers, and administrators is inexplicable. Our deepest condolences are extended to everyone affected by this horrific incident. Many seek to find a simple solution, and several concepts have emerged, including eliminating fire drills and implementing barricading devices.
While early reports indicate that the suspect may have initiated a fire alarm to lure victims out of the safety of their classrooms and offices into a danger zone, eliminating fire drills in an effort to protect civilians from an active shooter is a knee-jerk reaction. Fire drills have historically been shown to save lives. There are available and allowable systems in the fire and building codes to help address misuse of fire alarms, if implemented.
Additionally, NASFM would like to re-iterate its position that barricading devices should be carefully considered and not viewed as a reliable and safe solution. Any steps taken to mitigate an active shooter situation with a barricading device should also comply with building codes, fire codes, and life safety requirements. This includes the ability to readily unlatch the door from inside the classroom with one motion without the use of a key, a tool, or special knowledge, or effort, in order to facilitate immediate egress from the classroom.
Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the citizens and first responders of south Florida. We are proud of the heroes who stepped forward that day and hope for the day when every child can feel safe at school.
Please see more detailed information and guidance here.
Patriarch Jack Pearson's untimely death on NBC's hit show, "This Is Us" provides NASFM with an excellent opportunity to educate the public about home fire safety, particularly relative to smoke alarms. Before you toss out that traitorous Crock Pot, keep in mind that there's other things that could have helped save Jack's life.
Smoke alarms are critical! Remember, if there is a fire in your home, you could have less than 2 minutes to get out safely once the smoke alarm sounds, but most importantly NEVER EVER go back inside a burning building. Also:
More educational and outreach materials can be found on U.S. Fire Administration's Webpage.