Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the most common causes of deadly poisoning. Carbon monoxide is invisible, odorless, and nonirritating. It can be inhaled directly into the bloodstream where it displaces oxygen from hemoglobin, the protein that transports oxygen through the body. Without oxygen, the brain, heart, and muscles suffocate and cease to function.

Carbon monoxide results from the incomplete burning of carbon-based fuel such as gasoline, wood, or paper. Early symptoms of poisoning include headaches, nausea, and vomiting that get better when you leave the area. Advanced symptoms include loss of concentration, cognition, and memory, soon falling into a coma, and dying. Pets in the house may fall ill and die sooner than adult humans, so if your pet shows any of these symptoms, or you come home to find a pet dead, suspect carbon monoxide.

Any area that contains a car, barbecue, lawn mower, gas stove, hot water heater, furnace, fireplace, or snow blower is capable of containing deadly carbon monoxide fumes not only in the garage, room, or basement where they are located, but in any attached living quarters. You can even inhale too much carbon monoxide outside if you are too near an exhaust.

Never use a gas or charcoal grill in an enclosed space. Regularly service your furnace. Don't idle your car or lawn mower in an attached garage, even with the garage door open.

Have at least one carbon monoxide monitor in your home. If the alarm goes off, throw open all the windows and doors immediately and get everyone out of the house. Then call 911. If you live in an attached apartment or duplex, the fumes may be coming from a common vent. Have the emergency responders check on your neighbors as well.

-- Source material, Consumer Reports,The Best of Health 2011

Monday, May 6, 2013

It's Drinking Water Week!

The American Water Works Association and the City of Richmond Department of Public Utilities kicked off Drinking Water Week 2013 today by asking, "What do you know about H2O?"

Throughout the week, DPU celebrated water by recognizing the essential role drinking water plays in our daily lives.

Richmond customers can find out more about their water resources and the process that delivers water to home and businesses in our community here. Learn about our water quality and ways you can protect local water sources from pollution.

After water enters a home, conditions in the home plumbing system can affect the water's quality. Here are some tips for maintaining water quality at home:

Clean faucets and aerators regularly.
Clean and disinfect sinks and drains regularly.
Keep drains clear and unclogged.
Use cold tap water for drinking and preparing food.
Replace old plumbing and installed certified lead free fixtures.
Flush cold water taps after household plumbing work or when the water hasn't been used for several days by letting it run for a few minutes.
Drain and flush your hot water heater annually.
Do not connect hoses or other devices intended for non-drinking purposes to household drinking water faucets. Don't let the kids drink from the hose.
Keep hazardous chemicals and unsanitary materials away from drinking water faucets.

Additional information about maintaining water quality at home is available at DrinkTap.org.

The Department of Public Utilities launched Drinking Water Week with a display and giveaways  outside the Department of Social Services at Marshall Plaza and at Southside Community Center, May 6.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Prevent Water Scalding

Having a water heater thermostat set too high not only keeps your gas or electric bill high, it can cause injury. The majority of water scalding accidents happen to the elderly and children under 5. Third degree burns can occur if you are exposed for as little as 6 seconds to 140 degree water. Even milder temperatures can do harm. It takes just 30 seconds to be burned by 130 degree water, and 5 minutes to 120 degree water.

You can be scalded if you fall into the bathtub, don’t test the water before you get in or place a child in, or the temperature changes while you are in the shower because someone else in the house turned on water. Children can burn themselves playing with the faucet.

The American Burn Association recommends 100 degrees as the safest temperature for bathing. Never exceed 120 degrees. Have a plumber check your water heater to ensure it is within the required temperature of 120 degrees. And if you live with small children or the elderly, consider having an anti-scald device installed in faucets and showerheads that will limit water flow to a trickle if it exceeds 120 degrees.

Water Heater Safety Tips

▲Hot water heaters should be properly sized for your house.

▲Extra thick insulation helps prevent radiant heat loss and saves energy and money.

▲ Water temperatures above 120 degrees F can cause scalding, especially on young children and the elderly.

▲ Sediment build-up can cause premature tank failure and excess cost on fuel bills. Flush hot water through drain valve at least once a year to remove sediment build-up.

▲ Hot water heaters require yearly maintenance to ensure proper operation. Test safety valve once a year.

▲ Keep at least 18 inches around the hot water heater clean and free of combustible and flammable material.

▲ When leaving for vacation, set hot water heater temperature to its lowest setting to save money and reduce the risk of problems while you’re away.