Winter storms that bring heavy snows and power outages also increase the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely. A person can be poisoned by a small amount of CO over a long period of time or by a large amount of CO over a short amount of time. Snow drifts often block furnace and dryer exhaust vents, causing carbon monoxide (CO) gas to back-up into homes. The heat from the exhaust may not melt the snow, especially after a power outage.
- During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for fuel-fired appliances (dryer, furnace, stove, or fireplace) are clear of snow build-up.
- A generator should be used in a well-ventilated location outdoors at least 20 feet away from windows, doors and vent openings.
- If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open.
- If the CO alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors, or by an open window or door. Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for. Call 9-1-1 from a fresh air location and stay there until the Fire Department arrives.
CO poisoning can be confused with flu symptoms, food poisoning and other illnesses. Some symptoms include shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, light headedness or headaches. High levels of CO can be fatal.
For more information contact the Bismarck Fire Department at (701) 355-1400 or visit our website at https://www.bismarcknd.gov/19/Fire.