SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) – Unified Fire Authority officials are warning the public of carbon monoxide poisoning amid heavy snowfall this past week.
“When vents for gas-powered appliances such as furnaces, water heaters, or stoves get covered by snow, it can cause carbon monoxide to build up in the home,” United Fire officials state.
Officials say that due to snow piling up from the recent storm and “improper venting” of home appliances, fire crews have responded to several carbon monoxide-related calls. “When snow accumulates on the vents of appliances, such as furnaces, and water heaters, it can block the release of carbon monoxide (CO), a poisonous gas.”
Officials are urging the public to clear appliance vents of snow and other debris. If the snow blockage is a recurring issue, homeowners can reportedly install vent covers or “shields” to help them stay clear.
Officials say that the issue has led to carbon monoxide buildup in multiple homes, which can cause poisoning and in more extreme cases, death.
Firefighters reportedly cleared the outside vents for the furnace and water heater of a Herriman home, pictured below. “This style of vent is typical with newer homes with basements,” officials say.
Carbon monoxide, sometimes referred to as the “silent killer,” causes more than 50,000 emergency department visits in the United States and at least 430 deaths each year, according to University of Utah Health.
Americans aged 65 and older reportedly have the highest risk of death from carbon monoxide poisoning. The university says that in Utah, there were 192 emergency department visits and four deaths reported in 2021. During the winter months, the risk for poisoning increases.
Here are some tips for preventing carbon monoxide poisoning in your home.