Safety Reminder: Check CO alarms and keep vents clear of snow

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STOW, Mass. (WWLP)– The State Fire Marshal’s office is reminding people to test their carbon monoxide (CO) alarms and keep dryer, furnace, and other exhaust vents clear of snow.

Heating vents that are blocked by snow can cause carbon monoxide to accumulate inside the home, causing serious illness and death.

“Fuel-fired heating appliances like dryers, furnaces, boilers, and fireplaces are all sources of carbon monoxide,” State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said. “If the vent or flue is blocked, this poisonous gas can reach deadly levels inside the home. Know where the vents on your home are, be sure to clear them when shoveling, and be careful not to blow snow onto them if using a snowblower.”

Massachusetts fire departments reported nearly 18,000 CO incidents in 2020, officials said, and 92% were in residential settings. The poison gas can cause headache, fatigue, dizziness, and/or nausea at lower concentrations and death at higher concentrations. Exposure while asleep is particularly dangerous.

“We can’t see, smell, or taste carbon monoxide, but we can detect it with working CO alarms,” State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said. “If your alarm sounds, get outside and call 9-1-1.”

For more information on carbon monoxide and CO alarms, visit the DFS website.

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