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Carbon monoxide: Montana firefighters warn about “silent killer” as winter weather approaches

Posted at 10:15 PM, Nov 28, 2018
and last updated 2019-07-17 14:50:56-04

BILLINGS- The sound of a beeping alarm could be the only warning that dangerous levels of carbon monoxide might be lurking in your home.

“The bottom line is you can’t smell it.  You cannot smell carbon monoxide at all,” says Lockwood firefighter and paramedic Maury Martin.

You can’t see it either.  But if you have anything in your house that runs on gas, you and your family could be at risk.

“Some people seem to think that they’ll be able to detect the carbon monoxide in their home, and that’s not true.  Carbon monoxide is also known as the silent killer.  It is an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas that people will never know was in their home until it is too late sometimes,” says Martin.

Fire officials are warning people to make sure they protect themselves this winter—a time when carbon monoxide calls typically increase.

Exposure to carbon monoxide sometimes causes sudden flu-like symptoms, such as headache, nausea, and dizziness. But if something goes wrong with your furnace or any other gas appliance and you are already asleep, you may never know.

“That’s why we suggest having carbon monoxide detectors just outside the sleeping areas because people can go to sleep and not wake up,” says Martin.

Martin says that you should have at least one CO detector on every level of the home and that they should be professionally installed if possible.  If you can’t do that, he says to get the plug-in kind with a battery backup.

Other tips to make sure that you stay safe from carbon monoxide danger include:

  • Installing CO detectors and testing alarms at least once a month.
  • During a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow buildup.
  • If you need to warm up a vehicle. remove it from the garage immediately after starting it.
  • Never run a portable generator inside a house
  • And make sure to get everyone outside right away if the CO alarm sounds. Then call 911.

Fire officials also suggest that you get all gas appliances inspected for safety once a year by a trained professional.