Carbon monoxide, “CO,” is a potentially deadly gas that is odorless and colorless. CO can be found anytime fuel burns in vehicles, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces or furnaces, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, chest pain and confusion. CDC officials say CO symptoms can be described as “flu-like.”
Officials from the Unified Fire Authority said they have responded to multiple CO-related calls on Wednesday, Feb. 22, due to improper venting.
Snowfall could block vents that are releasing CO out of the residence, leading to the potentially deadly gas building up inside the home. In extreme cases, carbon monoxide can kill people after making them pass out.
UFA firefighters say homeowners are advised to check their vents regularly. If snow blocking the vents becomes a recurring issue, consider installing vent covers or shields. Remember to have appliances inspected and maintained regularly to make sure they are running efficiently.
Here are some CDC safety tips to protect your home from CO poisoning:
- Install a battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector in your home.
- 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.
- If you smell an odor from your gas refrigerator, have an expert service it. An odor from your gas refrigerator can mean it could be leaking CO.
- 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. Horizontal vent pipes for appliances, such as a water heater, should go up slightly as they go toward outdoors, as shown below. This prevents CO from leaking if the joints or pipes aren’t fitted tightly.
- Have your chimney checked or cleaned every year. Chimneys can be blocked by debris. This can cause CO to build up inside your home or cabin.
- Never patch a vent pipe with tape, gum, or something else. This kind of patch can make CO build up in your home, cabin, or camper.
- Never use a gas range or oven for heating. Using a gas range or oven for heating can cause a build up of CO inside your home, cabin, or camper.
- Never burn charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal – red, gray, black, or white – gives off CO.
- Never use a portable gas camp stove indoors. Using a gas camp stove indoors can cause CO to build up inside your home, cabin, or camper.
- Never use a generator inside your home, basement, or garage or less than 20 feet from any window, door, or vent.
- When using a generator, use a battery-powered or battery-backup CO detector in your home.