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With arrival of frigid weather, carbon monoxide dangers rise

Firefighters say it's often due to faulty cold-weather appliances
Carbon monoxide dangers.jpg
Posted at 5:57 PM, Oct 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-23 19:57:53-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — With Friday being one of our first deep cold blasts of the season, firefighters say the amount of calls they get to people’s homes for carbon monoxide exposure tend to rise.

On the first crisp day of the season, Colorado Springs Fire Department Lieutenant Kevin Simpson can expect at least one thing.

“We do see an increase of Carbon Monoxide calls,” Simpson said.

It’s a side effect of our primal desire for warmth.

“People start to turn on their gas furnaces and their gas fireplaces, and they also start to close windows,” he said.

It’s odorless, it’s deadly, and it’s preventable.

“It’s when our appliances aren’t operating appropriately, we don’t have appropriate ventilation throughout the structure,” he said.

Simpson said carbon monoxide exposure is often a result of deferred home maintenance.

“If the chimney pipe itself hasn’t been professionally maintained it can have accumulation in it that won’t allow the gas to safely rise and exit the structure,” he said.

Sometimes it's just a matter of thinking logically. Simpson said if your car has been sitting in a cold garage all night and you want to warm it up before you hit the road, simply cracking open the garage door isn’t going to cut it.

“Often the carbon monoxide will make it back into the residence and be a problem,” he said.

It’s also important to crack open a window in your house when you turn on your fireplace.

“That’s really what supports the evacuation of that carbon monoxide,” Simpson said.

And having one little thing can be the difference that gets you out alive.

“We always recommend that homeowners and tenants as well, renters, having working carbon monoxide, in addition to smoke alarms,” Simpson said.

He said you should have a carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your house and outside every bedroom door.

“If it’s too near a gas fireplace or a gas appliance or your garage, you may get false positives,” Simpson said. “So on every level and outside every sleeping area.”

Simpson said there’s one other important thing to remember about your carbon monoxide detector, and that’s that they don’t last forever. He said detectors come with a label indicating how long it’s expected to last and you need to replace it when you hit that time.