Homeowners trying to stay warm warned about threat of carbon monoxide

Written by Tim Lambert and Radio Pennsylvania | Jan 25, 2013 4:31 AM
Thumbnail image for snow storm car mirror

(Harrisburg) -- Bitter cold temperatures are expected to remain across the midstate through at least Sunday.

Cold weather can raise the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in the home through faulty heating systems or cars left running too long in the garage.

Doctor Glenda Cardillo, the state's acting Physician General, says carbon monoxiode is so dangerous because it's odorless and colorless. "Carbon Monoxide is found in combustion fumes and basically, that's from small gasoline engines, generators, burning charcoal and wood," she says. "So, you want to make sure that you get your chimneys cleaned every year."

Cardillo says homeowners should make sure their heating system is checked annually by a professional and avoid running a generator inside a a basement or garage, even if doors and windows are open.

She recommends installing a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector in homes or apartments and if it sounds, people should leave their home immediately and call 911.

Motorists warming up their vehicles in the frigid temperatures are being reminded to be careful about leaving them unattended -- both indoors and outdoors.

Jenny Robinson of Triple-A Mid-Atlantic says carbon monoxide is a threat if a car is left running in a garage too long. "Don't idle your car in a garage, even if the garage door is open," she says. "Fumes can still build up very quickly in the garage (and) inside the car and that's really very dangerous."

Robinson notes if a driver becomes stranded in the cold weather, it's important to at least crack a window if the car is running.

People should also make sure snow is not blocking the exhaust pipe -- to guard against a carbon monoxide backup in the vehicle.

Police departments across the region are also warning residents to avoid leaving their cars unattended outside as they warm them up -- in order to discourage vehicle theft.

Later this morning, Radio Smart Talk takes a look at ways to protect the home from cold weather. That's at 9:00 a.m. on witf 89.5 and 93.3.

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