Fire department to offer free CO detectors


JASPER — You can’t see, hear or smell it — but too much could kill you.

Carbon monoxide is known as a silent killer. Inhaling it impedes the blood’s ability to carry oxygen to body tissues and vital organs.

Information about the gas will be distributed to Jasper residents with their September utility bills, and the city’s volunteer fire department is now offering potentially life-saving pieces of equipment at no charge to families in need.

“We have several homes throughout the heating season where we’ll see carbon monoxide problems,” said Kenny Hochgesang, chief of the Jasper Volunteer Fire Department. “Whether it’s an older furnace with a cracked heat exchanger ... to just different sources. We probably have anywhere from six to 10 a year that there is a problem, and that they may not wake up the next morning if they hadn’t called and had their home checked.”

Jasper’s fire department will begin distributing free carbon monoxide detectors to families in need during the first week of October. Readers interested in picking them up can contact the department at 482-1741. The local fire unit will purchase detectors with funds donated by Debbie Allen, a State Farm insurance agent based on Newton Street in Jasper.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports more than 400 Americans die from carbon monoxide poisoning every year. Common causes of poisoning include clogged chimneys; gas or wood-burning furnaces; vehicles running in attached garages; portable kerosene or gas heaters; using a gas or charcoal grill indoors or in a garage; improperly installed kitchen ranges or vents; cracked or loose furnace exchangers; and corroded or disconnected water heater vent pipe.

Dubois County isn’t immune to the effects of the gas. A Jasper resident died last year from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Prevention tactics include parking vehicles in driveways to keep carbon monoxide from building up in homes and garages, as well as regularly having professionals check fuel- and charcoal-powered equipment. Dryer, furnace and stove vents should be regularly checked for debris blockage, and if a gas-powered appliance is emitting an odor, emergency personnel should be contacted immediately.

“Without a carbon monoxide detector, or recognizing the dangers of carbon monoxide, you and your family may go to sleep tonight and not wake up tomorrow if you have a high level in your home,” Hochgesang said. “So, it’s important to No. 1, have a carbon monoxide detector. And then, if there is an issue, reach out to the fire department. And if your alarm’s sounding, we will come check the home.”

He continued: “We can ventilate the structure, if needed. And we can identify the issues so they can be corrected to keep your family safe.”

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