Fire department warns of carbon monoxide in homes, could be deadly

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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - As the weather cools down, heat and furnaces turn on. Furnaces and other appliances could omit carbon monoxide and the results could be deadly.

"Any appliance in your home that uses fuel, natural gas, propane," said Capt. Scott Seigworth at the Twin Falls Fire Department.

Appliances such as furnaces, wood burning stoves can produce carbon monoxide.

"Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is a product of combustion," Seigworth said.

Homeowner Anthony Fitzgerald knows the dangers of the gas.

"If you own a gas furnace in your house, you have to have carbon monoxide testers. If you don't, you're not protecting your family," Fitzgerald said.

He recently moved into their home in March and noticed that their furnace was old, and contacted Larry Ernst, owner of Intermountain Heating, who suggested a carbon monoxide detector.

"We ran some tests and decided to get it fixed," Fitzgerald said.

Some houses have smoke detectors but not carbon monoxide detectors.

"A lot of people have a smoke detector, and they think they have a CO detector and that's not the case," Ernst said. "They need to be double checked."

The detectors installed in homes should be distinguished as either a smoke detector or carbon monoxide detector. There are also detectors that have both functions.

"If they have a bedroom on opposite ends of the house, they need two, not just one, because there has to be one by each sleeping area in the home," Ernst said.

If a house is all electric but has a garage, the fire captain said homeowners should still have a carbon monoxide detector.

"Another big cause we see for carbon monoxide in homes is vehicles running in their garage," Seigworth continued. "If you start your car to warm it up in the garage, that can produce plenty of carbon monoxide to be an issue in your home."

The symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure are like flu symptoms. One would experience headaches, nausea and dizziness. To differentiate between the two illnesses, more than one person in the home would feel the symptoms.

"Everybody in the home would experience, not just one single person, would be one way to tell," Seigworth said.

The best way to avoid being poisoned by carbon monoxide is to install a CO detector at home, and they can be easily installed by the homeowner or by a professional.

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