As temperatures drop, local firefighters typically see a rise in carbon monoxide calls.

As temperatures drop, local firefighters typically see a rise in carbon monoxide calls.

“We’ll get some calls all year long,” Leavenworth’s Acting Fire Chief Mark Nietzke said.

But the calls tend to spike as it gets colder.

Rick Huhn, chief of Leavenworth County Fire District No. 1, said the number of CO calls increase as residents run their furnaces and have their homes closed up during the winter season.

Nietzke said his department already has responded to about a dozen CO calls since Sept. 1. However, the dangerous gas was detected only in about four of the cases.

One of those cases occurred Friday when firefighters had CO readings of 37 parts per million at a Leavenworth residence.

Once they have readings of 35 parts per million or more, Leavenworth firefighters put on their self-contained breathing apparatuses in order to protect themselves from the harmful effects of CO.

It was determined that the CO problem Friday was the result of a crack in a furnace’s heat exchanger.

Exposure to carbon monoxide can cause flu-like symptoms, and CO poisoning also can be fatal.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, a person can be poisoned by a small amount of CO over an extended period of time or by a large amount of CO during a shorter amount of time.

Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless gas created when fuels burn incompletely.

Nietzke recommends that people install CO detectors, as well as smoke detectors, in their homes.

He said people who believe they have carbon monoxide in their homes should call 911.

Nietzke said Leavenworth fire trucks carry multi-gas meters that detect carbon monoxide. He said CO problems often involve furnaces, water heaters and other gas burning equipment.

“We check those first,” he said.

CO problems frequently are caused by venting issues, he said.
The Leavenworth Fire Department often calls Kansas Gas Service during CO calls.

“They do what they call a shut-in test,” Nietzke said.

Huhn said people often open windows and doors to their homes when their CO detector alarms sound. But he said this can affect the CO readings taken by the responding firefighters. He recommended leaving a home closed up but stepping outside to get aware from the harmful exposure to CO.

Huhn also recommended having furnaces checked on a regular basis as well as making sure to replace batteries in CO detectors.