Staying Safe While Heating Your Home

Carbon monoxide is a deadly hazard year round, but fire officials say it becomes a particular threat during cold weather

There are hidden dangers when trying to fight the cold.

Chief among them, fire officials say,  is carbon monoxide poisoning.

Greenville Fire Chief Tim Warrick says all fuel-burning equipment creates the risk for carbon monoxide exposure.

“People try to use various things in order to heat their homes such as gas ovens, gas stoves, generators inside the homes,” said Warrick.

Warrick says that’s simply not safe. Neither is warming your vehicle in the garage.

“You should back it out of the garage and let it warm up. “It creates carbon monoxide buildup in your home and you don’t even realize it sometimes.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 500 people die every year from carbon monoxide poisoning. But you can prevent accidental death by taking precautions.

“The safest way is to have a service technician or the utility company come out to inspect all of your heating elements,” said Warrick.

Warrick also suggests installing a digital carbon monoxide detector. He says detectors offer peace of mind as temperatures continue to plummet.

“If it does go off you’ll know you are in danger of being carbon monoxide poisoned and you can get out of your residence and figure out what we need to do from there,” he said.

If your carbon monoxide detector sounds, fire officials say leave the house immediately and call 911. Remember you can’t smell or see carbon monoxide, so an alarm may be your only warning.

At its mildest, carbon monoxide poisoning can feel a little like the flu. But at its worst, exposure can be fatal.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers offers these tips for combating carbon monoxide during cold times:
-Never use a charcoal or gas grill inside a house, garage, closed-in porch or tent.
-Have your furnace inspected and adjusted before every heating season.
-Never use a generator inside your home — not even in the garage or porch. Keep it outside, far from the house.
-Never use a gas stove or oven to heat the house.
-Never leave a car running inside a garage, even if the garage door is open.
-Never sleep in a parked car while the engine is running.
-If you have a working fireplace, make sure the flue is open and the chimney is not blocked when burning wood or gas logs. Have your chimney, fireplace, and wood stoves, and flues inspected before every heating season. Never use charcoal in the fireplace.
-Get a carbon monoxide detector, with a battery back-up system, for your home. If you have a big house, get more than one detector.

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