Calgary, AB,

Calgary fire crews respond to carbon monoxide emergencies linked to snow storm

On Dec. 22 after a significant snowfall, the Calgary Fire Department responded to multiple carbon monoxide-related incidents. Large amounts of snow can block fresh air intakes and exhaust vents with snow and ice. This can result in the buildup of carbon monoxide (CO) which, if not detected, can be deadly.

“Calgary fire crews tend to see an increase in weather related activations of CO alarms when there is a large snowfall in a short amount of time. Today was one of those days. Thankfully, no injuries were reported as a result of today’s CO emergencies,” said Carol Henke, Public Information Officer with the Calgary Fire Department.

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that has no colour, smell or taste. A person can be poisoned by a small amount of CO over a longer period of time or by a large amount of CO over a shorter amount of time.

If you are exposed to CO gas, you may get flu-like symptoms such as headaches, nausea and dizziness, as well as become confused, tired and lose consciousness.

If you or anyone in your house experiences the symptoms of CO poisoning or your CO alarm goes off, you should leave your residence and call 9-1-1. Do not go back into the house until the Fire Department tells you it is safe to do so.

CO alarms provide the only warning of dangerous CO gas in your home. Test CO alarms once a month by pressing the alarm’s test button to hear if the alarm will sound. If your alarm uses batteries, be sure to replace the batteries once a year. Some manufacturers make alarms that have a 10 year lithium battery and thus do not require replacement.

Here are some tips on how to prevent CO buildup in your home:

  • Make sure fuel-burning appliances, chimneys and vents are cleaned and inspected by professionals every year before you start to use them, usually when the weather gets cold.
  • Make sure your vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, fireplace and other fuel-burning appliances are always clear of snow and other debris.
  • Only use gas and charcoal barbecues outdoors, away from all doors, windows, vents and other building openings. Never use barbecues inside a garage, even if the garage door is open.
  • Only use portable fuel-burning generators outdoors in well-ventilated areas away from windows, doors, vents and other building openings. Follow manufacturers’ instructions.
  • Never use the stove or oven to heat your home.
  • Make sure to open the flue of your fireplace before you use it.
  • Never run a vehicle or other gas motor inside a garage, even if the garage door is open. Always drive your vehicle out of the garage right after starting it.
  • Install CO alarms according to the directions on and pay attention to the clearance requirements.

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