OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — As we're officially in the fall season and weather begins to cool, firefighters are urging residents to prepare for the dangers that can come with the season. Furnaces and other appliances can emit carbon monoxide, which is deemed the silent killer.
"It’s the product of incomplete combustion. It's a colorless, odorless gas that mixes in the air and you don’t probably even know it’s there until you start feeling symptoms which mimic flu like symptoms and covid," Scott Fitzpatrick, Omaha Fire Department battalion chief, said.
Symptoms from carbon monoxide poisoning include vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and headaches. Fitzpatrick says if everyone in your house is experiencing the symptoms, or if you leave your house, feel better and start experiencing symptoms again when you return, it's a sign you may have carbon monoxide emitting in your home.
Besides physical reactions, there aren't too many other ways to know, that's why they urge everyone to get a detector.
"The biggest warning sign really to help with CO is to get the detector. The detector can pick that up and alert you that something is going on in your house. Have it checked out, have MUD check it out, have licensed heating contractor or the fire department check it out to make sure you’re safe and your family is safe, that’s the biggest things that can protect your family," Fitzpatrick said.
He also warns to keep three feet of space around space heaters and to plug them directly into an outlet and not an extension cord. During the season many also begin decorating their homes. While it makes for a festive home, that also poses dangers.
"A lot of people overload outlets with everything plugged in or many extension cords plugged into one outlet and that can cause fires as well," Fitzpatrick said. "We also see people put extension cords under their rugs because they don’t want people to trip on them but that doesn’t let the heat come off the extension cord properly. It can heat up the rug and make it catch fire so we don’t want you to do that."
If you can not afford a carbon monoxide detector, the fire department will install one for free. You can reach them at their public education office at 402-444-3560.