Snow-Packed Vents Result in Multiple CO Calls

Wednesday, February 2, 2011 - 3:28am

City of Madison firefighters responded to multiple calls for carbon monoxide poisoning overnight - five calls as of this morning.

In every case, the cause was vents packed with snow and ice. One individual was treated and released at a local hospital.

In at least two cases, occupants were alerted to the danger by carbon monoxide alarms, now required in all Wisconsin homes by a state law that went into effect yesterday.

Two others called 911 reporting dizziness and nausea and were found to be suffering from CO poisoning.

Heavy drifting around homes and vehicles is covering exhaust vents. Residents are encouraged to take a walk around their homes to ensure that all vents are cleared of snow and ice.

Carbon monoxide is the product of the incomplete burning of fossil fuels and can be caused by a variety of home appliances and fixtures: stoves, ovens, grills, clothes dryers, furnaces, boilers, water heaters, fireplaces and heaters. Car exhaust from an attached garage can also bring CO into living spaces.
• Keep chimneys, heating and dryer vents clear of snow and ice to prevent a buildup of CO in your home.
• Resist the temptation to warm your car in the garage - even with the garage door open.

Alarms do not need to be installed in the attic, garage or storage area of homes.

If the alarm sounds:
• If anyone is feeling ill or having flu-like symptoms (nausea, headache, dizziness) leave the house immediately and call 911
• If there are no signs of illness, turn off any fuel-burning equipment, open windows to bring fresh air into the home, and call your utility company or a heating contractor to inspect your system for problems.

MFD Status Update:
All Fire Department apparatus is running with chains. At this point, no snowplow escorts have been required on calls, though City Streets are ready to respond to Department requests in an emergency. Though Department vehicles are managing to get through to all calls, residents are advised there may be some delays in response.


  • Lori Wirth(608) 575-4943