The cold weather holds a potential danger if you warm up your car inside the garage. The Le Mars Fire Department has responded to a few calls recently that were carbon monoxide related.

Fire Chief Dave Schipper says people are mistakenly thinking that it is fine to run their vehicles in the garage as long as the door is open. “You know, you think the overhead bay door is open, I’ve got plenty of ventilation. That carbon monoxide coming out of that vehicle is going right into your house if you have an attached garage. It’s filling the garage rafters,” Schipper explains.

You may have a garage that is not attached to your house, and that can also cause problems if the carbon monoxide from the running car is not escaping. “You know it depends on which way the wind is out of, the wind may keep the exhaust fumes of your car in the garage and not allow them outside because your garage door faces the south and the wind is blowing from the south,” Schipper explains.

“We’ve had a couple of incidents with vehicles. This is one of those things where you could go to bed at night and not wake up in the morning.” Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless gas, and you won’t smell the gas, and might not recognize the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning as they can be confused with flu symptoms.

Schipper says people are sometimes confused about whether they have the flu or carbon monoxide poisoning. “The best thing that we tell people is that you can get a carbon monoxide alarm, and you should. You should have one that’s working,” he says. Schipper says the carbon monoxide detectors should be placed near the rooms where people sleep.

By Dennis Morrice, KLEM, Le Mars