photo by Chris Newman

Missoula Rural Fire is warning residents of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning this winter.

Deputy Chief and Fire Marshall Chris Newman said on Wednesday, March 5, that the heavy snows over the past few weeks could create a carbon monoxide hazard.

"One of the things that happens when we get heavy snow is a lot of the vents on the roofs of homes can get blocked, and when they get blocked you can have an issue with carbon monoxide because that vent is not able to do what it's supposed to do," Newman said. It's a reminder to get up on the roof and make sure those exhaust vents aren't blocked."

Another problem is starting up the car and allowing it to warm up while it's still inside the garage.

"When it's cold, we all want to hop into a nice warm car," Newman said. "We like to remind people that warming up the car inside the garage, even with the door open is asking for trouble with carbon monoxide. The gas can sit inside the garage, even long after you've driven away, and get inside the house and cause problems."

Newman said Missoula Rural Fire has had several calls recently about carbon monoxide.

"We've seen a rise over the last week or two in carbon monoxide calls," Newman said. "Those outcomes were positive, because the homes were equipped with carbon monoxide detectors. We believe that carbon monoxide alarms are at least as important as fire or smoke alarms in a home."

Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel can be sources of carbon monoxide.

Missoula Rural Fire Deputy Chief and Fire Marshall with Chris Newman