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Beware of Carbon Monoxide After Heavy Snow

There's a lot of fun to be had in the mountains of fresh snow, but it's easy to forget the problems that may arise in your home as a result of the excessive snowfall. Heating systems can malfunction when snow blocks the intake and exhaust vents for furnaces and water heaters.

"This can cause improper combustion or venting within the furnace or, in some cases, can cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to accumulate inside the home," said Mark Blake, a Weston volunteer firefighter and EMT. "Newer heating systems are more vulnerable to these issues due to the location of these vents, which are installed much lower on the side wall of a home."

Blake advises homeowners to take the following precautions to ensure safety:

• Have a properly operating carbon monoxide detector

• Keep the fresh air intake and exhaust vent area free of snow and ice buildup

• You can find the inlets and outlets of your furnace by looking at the heating equipment and following the intake back to where it penetrates the wall. Then check this area outside to ensure no snow is blocking the vents.

People exposed to carbon monoxide typically experience flu-like symptoms, including dizziness, fatigue, weakness, headache or vomiting, trouble breathing or confusion, Blake said, although symptoms vary by individual. Exposure to carbon monoxide can kill.

If you suspect carbon monoxide exposure, evacuate your home and call 911. The Weston Volunteer Fire Department is equipped to check for this dangerous condition and can provide you with assistance in keeping your home free of carbon monoxide.

For more information, contact Mark Blake at 203-247-1614.

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