October 1, 2014

Cold temperatures lead to warnings about carbon monoxide poisoning

The bitterly cold temperatures have heating systems running continuously, but a spokesman for Alliant Energy says there’s plenty of natural gas to meet the demand. Justin Foss says the extreme cold can sometimes cause transmission problems, but there haven’t been any reports of major service interruptions. “You know the one thing we see most often when it gets this cold is carbon monoxide poisoning. We know that in the winter, furnaces run, but when it gets this cold, furnaces run in overtime,” Foss says.

Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless and the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning often mimic flu symptoms. “We encourage people to have a carbon monoxide detector in their house,” Foss says. “And actually it’s best to have several in your house — one near the  bedrooms and another on each floor.” The detectors will alert you if the carbon monoxide level gets too high in your home.

Mid-American Energy spokeswoman, Abbey Bottenfield says you can run into problems when you use  supplemental heating. “You never want to use a grill or space heater or portable generator intended for outdoor use inside a home. Never attempt to heat a home with a gas range. All can emit that deadly carbon monoxide,” Bottenfield says.

Bottenfield also warns against piling snow or using shovels around outside gas meters and regulators.  That could cause gas leaks.