The Blizzard reminds Cape & Islanders of the dangers of carbon monoxide
Cape Cod, MA — The blizzard has created some health hazards that residents might not even be aware of: the need to dig out vents along the sides of home to prevent carbon monoxide buildups indoors is a critical task to do. Each year, carbon monoxide poisoning claims more than hundreds of lives and sends over 15,000 people to hospital emergency rooms across the country for treatment; many of the fatalities could have been avoided with the simple installation of a carbon monoxide alarm. When the temperatures drop, it is only natural to reach for the thermostat to turn up the heat or build a fire in the fireplace or wood stove to warm up the home. However, it is important to remember there are several everyday items that can put you and your family at risk, including gas-fired appliances and wood-burning fireplaces.
The high snow drifts block furnace vents and air intakes to some homes, predominantly those with newer high-efficiency furnaces. Those furnaces vent out the side of a home rather than up through the roof. Residents must clear snow from these vents and air intakes. If they are blocked, dangerous carbon monoxide will back into the home.
Some newer high efficiency furnaces have automatic shut-off’s that shut down the furnace when the vents are blocked. Keep a three-foot area clear around the vent and intake tubes outside to be safe.
Heating and dryer vents should also be cleared of snow to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. We also want to remind residents to never run a generator or gas grill in the home, garage or other enclosed spaces. If your CO alarm sounds, immediately evacuate and call 9-1-1.
Onset Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning
More severe symptoms with prolonged exposure of carbon monoxide poisoning
- confusion and drowsiness
- fast breathing, fast heart rate, or chest pain
- vision problems
If you believe you may be experiencing symptoms of monoxide poisoning, experts say to evacuate immediately and contact emergency personnel. Even with doors open, refrain from running your vehicle for extended periods of time, as garages with a door on only one side often do not provide adequate air flow.
Since monoxide alarms measure CO levels over time, the alarm will sound before an average, healthy adult would experience any symptoms. If you are not experiencing symptoms when the alarm sounds, please consider ventilating the home and contacting a service professional to check the CO level. The local fire department will send a team to check the home if you call to report the alarm sounding.