“We have had a cold spell here recently and a lot of times during these cold spells, or during the wintertime, we respond to an increased call of natural gas odors in a home,” Chief Sam DiGiovanna of Verdugo Fire Academy shared.
Carbon monoxide: a silent poison.
“Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas,” Chief DiGiovanna continued. “You can’t even smell it.”
But this is the time of year where its silence is broken.
Thursday, 13 people in a Massachusetts apartment building were hospitalized because of a carbon monoxide leak.
When first responders arrived, CO2 levels were off the charts and connected it to a furnace and faulty stove.
This just shows just how quickly one, small leak can impact your health.
But there are warning signs if there is a leak in your home.
“If you start feeling flu-like symptoms or achy or you just feel very tired, there’s a good chance you may be having carbon monoxide symptoms,” Chief DiGiovanna explained. “ I say that with hesitation because right now is flu season and we have COVID 19 that’s running and starting to spike a bit. If you start feeling that way, and maybe several people start feeling that way in your house, I would get out of the house, open the house up, air it out and call 911.”
However, there are many ways people can prevent these leaks before they happen.
“Have your filters checked every month,” Chief DiGiovanna said. “Make sure that they are clean and if they’re not, replace them especially during the wintertime to make sure that they are working efficiently. If you check the flame, if the flame is yellow or large and unsteady, you know that there’s probably a problem with your appliance. Shut it off.”
And don’t turn to other heat sources like your oven or barbeque.
“They’ll use their stoves, they’ll even bring in their barbecues inside their house and heat those barbecues up to try to keep warm. That’s very dangerous. You could get carbon monoxide poisoning very easily with that. Please, please do not do that,” Chief DiGiovanna continued.
For Chief DiGiovanna, the most important prevention tactic is to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home.
Especially in the desert where we don’t use heaters too often, it’s even more important to have your furnace checked yearly by heating and air contractors to ensure you will have a warm and safe winter ahead.