As the temperatures drop, stories about people dying from carbon monoxide poisoning become more common in the news. The unfortunate reality is that many people unknowingly put themselves and their families at risk just by trying to heat their homes. Learn why carbon monoxide poisoning is more common in winter.
Unvented Space Heaters
People use many strategies to heat their homes during the winter, including using space heaters. While all space heaters can be dangerous, some are riskier than others. Unvented space heaters use gas or propane as fuel (unlike the more common electric space heaters), and they’re very dangerous if placed indoors.
What makes these heaters dangerous is the fact that they’re unvented. This means the appliances don’t connect to a ventilation shaft, and any gas fumes (including carbon monoxide) go into the room. Some states and many local residency laws prohibit using unvented heaters indoors, but not everyone listens.
If you’ve ever heard that you’re not supposed to run your car in the garage, you should know there’s a very good reason for that. Car exhaust produces carbon monoxide, which can waft into the rest of your house.
During the winter, it’s also common to hear about tragedies where families die while sleeping in their cars overnight. These kinds of incidents are more common when it’s freezing outside and someone’s power goes out. If you don’t know any better, you might think a warm car is better than a cold house.
Fireplaces are another reason why carbon monoxide poisoning is more common in winter. Many people associate carbon monoxide with gas exhaust, so they don’t realize their fireplace is another potential source.
If you burn wood in your fireplace or have it hooked up to a pellet-burning stove, you need to double-check that the flue is open so that gas doesn’t flood back into your home. A dirty or clogged chimney can also cause similar problems, even if the flue is open.
The best way to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning is to keep a portable gas detector in your home near any potential gas sources. This way, the detector can alert you if carbon monoxide seeps into your home well before anyone in your family starts feeling sick. Since carbon monoxide is clear and has no smell, a detector is the only way to know it’s present.
TG Technical Services supplies businesses and homeowners with portable carbon monoxide gas detectors that save lives. You can always take too many precautions, but it only takes one act of negligence for a tragedy to occur.