Outdoor air quality along the Wasatch Front has a reputation for being unhealthy during winter inversions, but the Environmental Protection Agency is warning that indoor air quality in the form of carbon monoxide gas could be even more dangerous.
Risk for inhaling the colorless, odorless gas increases in the cold weather due to the use of stoves, furnaces, hot water heaters, gas ranges and more. It can even come from cars running inside attached garages or the use of Japanese-style charcoal hibachi stoves indoors.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can be difficult to detect, but the EPA warns that “early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can be similar to flu symptoms, including headaches, nausea, dizziness and fatigue.”
The federal agency recommends that if you suspect you have been poisoned, get fresh air as quickly as possible and then, get a blood test.
Here is its list of things you can do to protect yourself and your family:
- Make sure appliances are installed and vented properly.
- Have gas or wood-burning appliances, heating and ventilation systems (including chimneys) inspected regularly.
- Inspect homes after heavy snowfall and make sure snow is removed from around exhaust stacks, vents, and fresh-air intakes.
- Buy a carbon monoxide detector for your home or apartment and make sure the detector meets Standard UL 2034 of the Underwriters Laboratory. Keep in mind that installing a detector is not a guarantee of safety, it is just one of the precautions you should take.
Avoid these things, the EPA suggests:
- Use a gas range or oven for heating your home
- Leave a car running in a closed garage
- Burn charcoal indoors
- Operate unvented fuel-burning appliances (including electric generators) indoors.