Help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning as temperatures fall

Published 6:55 am Tuesday, November 13, 2018

With winter weather approaching and temperatures decreasing, the risk for becoming ill from carbon monoxide poisoning increases.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, the number of emergency room visits and hospitalizations for carbon monoxide poisoning are highest between November and February, when the use of fuel-burning heat sources increases people’s risk.

Carbon monoxide can build up dangerous concentrations indoors when fuel-burning devices are not properly vented, operated or maintained. Those devices include everything from furnaces, water heaters and gas or kerosene space heaters to charcoal or gas grills, fireplaces, wood stoves and motor vehicles.

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The Minnesota Department of Health offers the following safety tips to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Make sure you have working carbon monoxide alarms. In Minnesota, state law requires carbon monoxide alarms in all single and multi-family residences within 10 feet of each room used for sleeping. People should replace their alarms every five years or according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Have your fireplace or wood-burning stove inspected annually by a professional to ensure it vents properly outside the home.

  Never run a gasoline or propane heater or a grill inside your home or in a garage. Properly vent and maintain all fuel-burning appliances. Use battery-powered alarms where you have fuel-burning devices but no electric outlets, such as tents, cabins, RVs and boats with enclosed cabins.

  If you run a generator, do so at least 20 feet from the home. Never run a generator in the home or garage, or right next to windows or doors.

Be aware of carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms. Symptoms to overexposure include headache, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea and confusion. Go outside immediately if you think you might be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning.