Carbon Monoxide (CO) Winter Safety Tips

January 30, 2019

We tend to focus on bad weather, slippery roads, and frozen pipes in the winter but rivaling all of those safety concerns is carbon monoxide (CO). Find out what makes this home invader unique and what you can do to stop it this winter.

CO is referred to as the silent killer for good reason. Not only is it odorless, colorless, and tasteless but it works very quickly. Of the 400 Americans who die from CO poisoning every year, 170 of those are a result of non-automotive consumer products. Room heaters are just one example of what is happening in 42.5% of deadly CO incidences – and that’s not to mention the 20,000 ER visits and 4,000 hospitalizations that result from it – and why we want to get this information to you right now so you can do something about it today.

You might even recall in a previous blog what fire department calls regarding CO often had in common: early evening hours, in winter months, and from residential properties.

That all being said, let’s dive into our carbon monoxide winter safety tips:

  • Service your chimney, furnace, water heater, and any gas or coal-burning appliances annually by a certified and reputable company (checking for leaks, corroded parts, proper function, etc.)
  • Change your HVAC filters before winter starts (it’s not too late to do it now!)
  • Generators and portable flameless chemical heaters or gas camp stoves are not to be used inside
  • Check for proper venting on all gas appliances
  • Keep outdoor vent areas shoveled (vents from your furnace or gas dryer are most common)
  • NEVER heat your home with a gas appliance
  • Do not warm up your car if it’s in the garage (even if the garage door is open), especially in an attached garage
  • When purchasing gas appliances and equipment, buy only certified equipment with a seal from a national testing agency, such as Underwriters’ Laboratories (UL)

People and pets are susceptible to the fumes produced by carbon monoxide (sometimes, pets are even more so than people). If you notice your pet acting sluggish, hard to waken, or ill, you may want to check your CO levels just to rule it out.

Even if you don’t live in a state that requires homeowners with fuel-burning heaters, fireplaces, gas stoves, and attached garages to install carbon monoxide detectors, every home should have them. Why? Because the olfactory system is physically unable to act as a CO detector, even if it could, the damage may already be done by that time. Taking that one step further, we recommend every CO detector be monitored 24/7 to ensure your complete safety should the alarm sound. Help is on the way before you’ve had the chance to figure out your next move during a crisis when it’s particularly hard to think and you might not be alert enough to call for yourself, and very cold outside, where it’s safest when your home has a leak. Moreover, when children, pets, or your elderly parents are home alone, both you and the authorities are notified of the leak.

Don’t let carbon monoxide get the better of you. The best offense is a good defense and knowledge is your best weapon. Contact us for more information or a free consultation!

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