Chicago Forecast

How to Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning When Heating Your Home

CO poisoning has been linked to more than 20,000 emergency room visits and over 4,000 hospitalizations each year

As a cold spell hits the Chicago area this weekend, properly heating the home during excessively low temperatures is necessary to stay safe, officials warned.

According to a release, more than 400 people die every year in the U.S. from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, which is found in fuels from cars, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges or furnaces.

CO poisoning has been linked to more than 20,000 emergency room visits and over 4,000 hospitalizations each year, officials added.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defined carbon monoxide as an "odorless, colorless gas that kills without warning." Though the gas cannot be seen, smelled or heard, the CDC said poisoning can be prevented.

Here are some tips to avoid CO buildup:

  • Install a CO detector near every sleeping area in the home and regularly check the devices
  • Never use a generator inside the home, basement or garage, even if windows are open
  • Have the furnace inspected annually
  • Do not use a stove or oven as a home heating source
  • If using a space heater inside the home, keep it at least three feet from flammable items such as curtains, blankets and couches

Signs of CO poisoning include: headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain and confusion, a release said. The CDC explained CO poisoning symptoms are often described as "flu-like."

Though all people are at risk for CO poisoning, officials said infants, the elderly, individuals with chronic heart disease, anemia or breathing problems are more likely to get sick.

The artic cold temperatures hitting the Chicago area aren't going to let up anytime soon, and could become the longest stretch of such February temperatures the city has ever seen.

Highs Saturday are set to only reach between 8 and 17 degrees with wind chill readings well below zero. Overnight lows are expected to drop near zero, with wind chill readings between -20 and -30 degrees.

Sunday will be equally as cold, with highs in the single digits and wind chills well below zero.

Overnight lows range from 0 to 5 degrees below zero, with locations closer to the lake likely staying above 0, and wind chills between -5and -15 degrees.

The bitter blast is set to continue at least through the first part of the work week.

According to NBC 5 Storm Team meteorologists, current forecasts show the area staying at 18 degrees or below for nine straight days. The last time that happened for such a long stretch was in February 2007, data shows.

If the temps hold for 10 straight days, it would be the first time on record O'Hare Airport recorded 10 straight days of such temps in February.

Should it continue for 12 straight days, it would tie for the longest very cold stretch since 1958.

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