CO v. COVID: Why carbon monoxide detectors are a must this winter

Baihly Warfield
Updated: October 20, 2020 08:35 PM

When the snow flies, firefighters expect calls to pick up. 


Many are for house fires, but they also commonly deal with carbon monoxide calls. 

Duluth Deputy Fire Marshal Jon Otis said this year, it's especially important to have a working CO detector. 

"Carbon monoxide causes flu-like symptoms. So if you're having a headache or you're feeling sick to your stomach ... those could all be indicators of carbon monoxide poisoning. It also could be symptoms of flu or even we're now experiencing COVID stuff," Otis said. "So by having a CO detector working in your home, that eliminates one of those possible potential hazards." 

CO detectors should be replaced every seven years.

Heating-related fires are the third most common cause of fire in Minnesota, behind cooking and open flames. 

Otis said if a wood burning stove is involved, usually that's because creosote, a residue, has built up inside the stovepipe. 

"In natural gas or propane-burning fires, those are typically caused by gas leaks, that sort of thing," Otis said. "And then with electric, it tends to be having combustibles too close to something, so having an electric space heater, say, next to a couch, next to some drapes."

He also asks people to check their furnace vent, their hot water heater vent, and their chimney to make sure there are no blockages. 

Otis also said that Daylight Saving Time, which is Nov. 1, is a great built-in reminder to check the batteries in your smoke detectors. That should be done every six months, and they should be replaced every 10 years. 

Of course, if there is any indication of a fire, high CO levels, or other danger, you should evacuate the house and call 911. 


Baihly Warfield

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