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KCFD: Carbon monoxide calls 'slightly' increase in winter months; how to avoid CO poisoning

Did you remember to change smoke, carbon monoxide detector batteries?
Posted at 5:19 PM, Jan 10, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-10 18:19:00-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City, Missouri, Fire Department reports receiving a "slight" increase in carbon monoxide (CO) calls during the winter months, according to Battalion Chief Michael Hopkins.

With extremely cold temperatures and sub-zero wind chills expected in the coming week, it's important for homeowners to know how to avoid CO poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas, which makes it difficult to detect without proper precautions.

Hopkins attributes most carbon monoxide calls in the winter to gas furnaces that are not properly serviced or ventilated.

He also said CO levels can increase inside homes when gas stoves or ovens are used as an alternative source of heat.

Nausea, vomiting, headache, lethargy, confusion and dizziness are all signs of carbon monoxide poisoning.

If multiple occupants feel a sudden onset of these symptoms, Hopkins says it is a strong indicator of CO.

Upon noticing these symptoms, occupants should immediately exit the building and call 911.

Hopkins provided these tips to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Never operate a gas-powered engine indoors, gas-powered engines — like generators — are only meant to be used in outdoor and well-ventilated spaces
  • Make sure to have a carbon monoxide detector properly installed low and near the floor
  • Make sure carbon monoxide detectors have fresh batteries
  • Get a professional to service and inspect your furnace
  • Get a professional to clean and service your fireplace
  • Never use your gas stove or oven as an alternative source of heat

The Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department has a limited amount of carbon monoxide detectors available for KCMO residents.

Residents can reserve a detector by emailing Healthy.homes@kcmo.org or by calling 816-513-6464.

The department tells those who apply to await a confirmation before heading to 2400 Troost Avenue, Suite 3600 to pick up the CO detector.