LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - With temperatures falling below freezing most nights, carbon monoxide poisoning becomes a bigger threat. This is because carbon monoxide (CO) can enter the home through damaged or aging furnaces and gas appliances.
"CO is produced by anything that has carbon in it," said Adam Foley, firefighter with the La Crosse Fire Department. "So a lot of our fossil fuels and a lot of the things that we use to heat will, if there's a problem or malfunction in the exhaust system, will create a CO problem outside of the home. And that's where it becomes an issue."
Carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless gas and if breathed in high enough concentrations can be fatal. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, dizziness, vomiting and in high enough concentrations can be lethal.
"It doesn't take a very high dose of CO to where you'll start to experience nausea, headache, possibly vomiting," said Foley. "It's dangerous because it displaces the air that you breathe in your lungs and it reduces the ability to breathe oxygen."
The best way to protect your family is to have working carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your home.
"Every once in a while vacuum out the detector," said Foley. "Make sure it's working properly and change the batteries as you would a smoke detector."
If you suspect carbon monoxide in your home get all people and pets outside immediately and call 911. Foley said turning off your furnace or opening windows should be left to the fire department so CO levels can be accurately measured and the problem can be isolated.