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Keep carbon monoxide out of your Montana home this season

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Posted at 11:05 AM, Oct 11, 2022

TOWNSEND - With temperatures dropping towards the end of the year, people are starting to use burning appliances such as fireplaces and wood stoves more often.

But if not properly maintained, you can be putting yourself in danger.

Carbon monoxide can collect in homes in a variety of different ways that you should be aware of.

Some examples are a blocked chimney, a cracked heater system, a wooden stove, small engines, and any other gas, oil, or coal-burning appliances.

Broadwater County Rural Volunteer Fire Chief Ed Shindoll says to go through some steps if you are in a serious situation with carbon monoxide.

“The biggest thing that we want people to do if their alarms goes off is to close their doors and windows and get out, because normally they open the door and by the time we get there it’s all vented out so there's no trace of the carbon monoxide,” said Shindoll.

Carbon monoxide can be hard to detect, it has no odor or smell and its symptoms mimic colds and other illnesses.

Symptoms related to inhaling carbon monoxide: headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion

“If the alarm goes off; if you’ve been having headaches or you feel sick, that’s usually a sign of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless, you can't see or smell it,” said Shindoll.

To avoid any serious scenario with carbon dioxide, make sure any gas, wood, coal, or burning system is serviced every year for any issues you may or may not see.

You also want to never leave your car running in a closed, or partially closed, space, such as a garage.

Also never run a generator or any gas-powered engine inside a home or within 20 feet of an open window.

Lastly, make sure to check the carbon monoxide detector to see if the batteries are charged.

“Definitely put in a CO detector, they will save a life, and if you do get sick or have headaches, that’s a good indication of carbon monoxide poison,” said Shindoll.

The US Centers for Disease Control reports 430 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning, and around 50,000 people go to the emergency room for accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.

The Broadwater Volunteer Fire Department advises people to always check or replace the batteries in detectors every spring and fall.