Freeze Out Carbon Monoxide Poisoning This Winter When You Turn Up the Heat

Winter is the peak season for carbon monoxide deaths

Freeze Out Carbon Monoxide Poisoning This Winter When You Turn Up the Heat
Image: Pixabay
February 10, 2017

Cold temperatures gripping people around the nation lead them to turn up the heat in their homes. However, some are resorting to drastic measures to keep warm, raising their risk for poisoning by invisible, odorless, and colorless carbon monoxide.

Many don't know that more people die from carbon monoxide poisoning in winter than in any other season. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it kills more than 400 people each year.

Any fuel-burning heating system can produce carbon monoxide: portable gas generators, fireplaces, wood stoves, charcoal grills, gas heaters, kerosene heaters, gas furnaces, and other fuel-burning appliances all give off the deadly gas.

For these reasons, it is important to follow the below safety tips to freeze out carbon monoxide this winter.

Most Important

  • Install carbon monoxide alarms with battery backup on each level of the home and outside each sleeping area.
  • Get a licensed professional to inspect and service heating systems and any other fuel-burning appliances in your house every year, including chimneys and vents.

Should Be Done

  • Test both smoke and carbon monoxide alarms once per month to ensure they're working.
  • Be aware of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, sleepiness, and confusion.
  • Make sure your portable fuel-burning space heaters include an oxygen depletion sensor, which will turn the heater off to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning if oxygen levels begin to fall.
  • Before you light a fire, open the fireplace damper and keep it open until the ashes have cooled, particularly at night while people are sleeping. This will avert the buildup of carbon monoxide.

Should Never Be Done

  • Never heat your home using a gas oven or stove.
  • Never use a kerosene space heater in an enclosed space; always ventilate properly.
  • Never use a portable generator inside the house, including the garage, basement, or shed. When using a generator, make sure it is outside at least 20 feet away from the house.
  • Never use a charcoal or gas grill inside or outside close to open windows or doors.

Remember: carbon monoxide can't be seen, heard, or smelled, but it can be stopped.