As the winter cold front continues to persist across Alberta, local fire departments are reminding people about the dangers of carbon monoxide.
With cold weather comes long stints of being indoors and attempts to keep as warm as possible. However, this comes with an increased danger for carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless, tasteless gas produced by burning gasoline, wood, propane, charcoal, or other fuel.
Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when too much carbon monoxide is in the air and it builds up in your bloodstream. When this happens your body replaces the oxygen in your red blood cells with carbon monoxide which can lead to serious tissue damage or even death.
Signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may include:
• Nausea or vomiting;
• Shortness of breath;
• Blurred vision;
• Dull headache;
• Or loss of consciousness.
As people are indoors running their heat consistently, there are a few safety measures that one can take to reduce their risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
When it comes to cold weather and carbon monoxide safety, Deputy Chief Trevor Palmer with the Millet Fire Department says, “cold weather emergencies often don’t have to be emergencies with a little pre-planning!”
“People get complacent with checking vents, boilers and furnaces. Make sure that pilot lights are functioning properly, [and] use caution in having fires in wood burning stoves and fireplaces.”
When running your furnace this winter it is important to check the vent pipes, whether it is a roof pipe or one that comes out of the side of your home, to ensure that the exhaust from your furnace is venting outside your home properly.
If you have a wood burning stove or fireplace in your home it is important to make sure the smoke is venting from the chimney properly and not building up indoors.
“Ideally, its been swept in the past year so that there’s no build-up of soot that could cause a chimney fire,” says Palmer. He adds that the chimney fire could ultimately end up being a structure fire.
Another major fire hazard in your home is your dryer vent—it is crucial to keep the dryer vents clear of lint.
Your home isn’t the only place you could be in danger of carbon monoxide poisoning this winter. You should be vigilant when in your vehicle as well.
Palmer advises when warming up your vehicle make sure that you pull your vehicle onto a driveway and away from an intake vent, or door, of your home.
Given the dangerous road conditions that many have faced so far this winter, it is important to remember if you hit the ditch to make sure your vehicle’s tailpipe is exposed and not buried in snow, and is able to push exhaust out.
Having a tailpipe covered will trap the exhaust in your vehicle and will result in a build up of carbon monoxide in the cab, which can prove fatal when waiting for assistance out of the cold in the safety of your vehicle.