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Carbon monoxide safety in cold weather

By Callan Gray, cgray@wcyb.com
Published On: Jan 03 2014 09:47:17 PM CST
Carbon monoxide detector
BRISTOL, Tenn. -

Many of you are probably cranking up the heat to stay warm as it gets colder outside but before you do that, you'll want to make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector.

We talked to a Bristol, Tenn. family whose out-of-date detector could have cost them their lives.

Tim Baker's carbon monoxide detector went off for the first time in October, 2013.

"In the summer time, I had the carbon monoxide detector unplugged downstairs so I plugged it and as soon as I plugged it in it's like 999 parts per million (ppm)," said Baker.

Fire officials in Bristol, Tenn. told us anything above 25 ppm is dangerous.

Baker said they turned the heat off and called the natural gas company to come inspect the home.

"They're like our detectors aren't showing anything, your detector is just faulty," Baker told us.

The Baker's detector was dated 1998 and it was expired. Baker told us he found out that detectors usually have a five year life-span.

"Ya know if it wasn't, if it was actually a leak, we'd probably all be dead," he said.

Faulty carbon monoxide detectors are why Bristol Tennessee assistant fire chief Jack Spurgeon told us you should have your home inspected every year.

Licensed professionals can see if "the product itself is burning the fuel off properly, it's properly ventilated, there's no build up of rodents or something that may have built a nest in your vent stack, or maybe your vent stack has come loose," said Spurgeon.

He told us anything that burns fossil fuels can put you at risk. Spurgeon said starting your car in the garage, even with the garage door open is also dangerous, and so is using grills or generator indoors.

"We've had a few issues," Spurgeon said. "Most of the time it's related to a product being used in the home."

He told us your first line of defense is a carbon monoxide detector so you should have one on every level of the home and close enough to your bedroom that it'll wake you up when you're sleeping.

Tim Baker told us they're putting their five new detectors in the basement and in the halls outside their bedrooms.

If you've been exposed to carbon monoxide, you may have flu-like symptoms, be confused, have a throbbing headache or have ringing in your ears.

Authorities told us if you are exposed, you should get out of the house immediately and call for help.