From Across the Field – New Year’s Checklist

Happy New Year. I had the opportunity to spend some quality time with friends and family in Morgan County before gearing up for our busy Extension meeting season. While I was in southern Ohio it was tough to do much farm work with all of the mud. On New Year’s Eve, 2018 became the wettest year on record according to the Columbus news stations. One thing we were able to accomplish, was cutting and splitting a couple of cords of firewood for my brother. It was splitting wood that reminded me this is a good time to check a couple of things around the house, now that the calendar has turned.

This is the time of the year when fuel-burning devices are at peak utilization, along with that come the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas that can cause sudden illness and death. The Ohio Department of Commerce, Division of State Fire Marshal, warns of following devices that may produce dangerous levels of CO gas: fuel fired furnaces (non-electric); gas water heaters; generators; fireplaces and wood stoves; gas stoves; non-electric space heaters; gas dryers; charcoal grills; and motorized automobiles and equipment.

Carbon monoxide cannot be detected without a carbon monoxide detector/alarm. It can present itself like other illnesses. Common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, get to fresh air, and call 911 or consult a health care professional.

What can you do to prevent CO poisoning? The Center for Disease Control and the National Fire Protection Association have extensive lists of guidance to follow to keep you and your loved ones safe. See the key points below:

Install a battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. Place your detector where it will wake you up if it alarms, such as outside your bedroom. Consider buying a detector with a digital readout. This detector can tell you the highest level of CO concentration in your home in addition to alarming. Replace your CO detector every five years.

Have your heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year; do not use portable flameless chemical heaters indoors; when you buy gas equipment, buy only equipment carrying the seal of a national testing agency, such as Underwriters’ Laboratories; make sure your gas appliances are vented properly; have your chimney checked or cleaned every year; never patch a vent pipe with tape, gum, or something else; during and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow build-up; never use a gas range or oven for heating; never burn charcoal indoors; never use a portable gas camp stove indoors; never use a generator inside your home, basement, or garage, only use outdoors more than 20 feet from any window, door, or vent; and when using a generator, use a battery-powered or battery backup CO detector in your home.

This is the deadline to sign up for the Improving Grain Marketing Plans series. I’ll end this week with a thought from Henry Moore:“ I think in terms of the day’s resolutions, not the years.” Have a great week and a happy New Year.

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