An important safety reminder before the cold weather sits in is to make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector inside your home. Omaha Fire Battalion Chief Scott Fitzpatrick it can accumulate in a home when heating sources are used.
Fitzpatrick says, “Carbon monoxide is a product of any incomplete combustion that you burn in your house, wood, propane, charcoal, natural gas, oil, anything like that. The carbon monoxide mixes freely with the air that we breathe. Usually it has no color or odor but sometimes you can sometimes kind of smell it with incomplete combustion.”
At high levels, carbon monoxide can be deadly. Fitzpatrick says it combines with the hemoglobin in your blood which transports oxygen in your cells so it prevents oxygen from being circulated. Symptoms are flu-like with headaches, upset stomach and vomiting. It can also cause drowsiness and dizziness. If those symptoms go away after leaving the home is a good indication that a furnace or other fuel burning source is not working properly.
Fitzpatrick recommends you to have furnaces, water heaters and other gas appliances checked before the cold weather sets in. Be extra careful with wood stoves and never burn charcoal inside. For those with vehicles in an attached garage, Fitzpatrick says pull it into a driveway and close the garage door before warming it up.
Last week a 38 year old Omaha woman died from carbon monoxide poisoning after a portable generator was used inside her home during a power outage. There was not a detector inside the home.
Fitzpatrick says many local fire departments will install carbon monoxide detectors in homes of residents at no charge.