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Welcome to Day 5 of Winter Hazard Awareness Week

Day 5: Winter Hazard Week- Indoor Safety

The National Weather Service, in cooperation with the Wisconsin Division of Emergency Management and the Minnesota Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, sponsors Winter Hazard Awareness Week to help you prepare for the winter season. During the week the National Weather Service in Duluth is providing these safety tips and information about hazardous winter weather.

Carbon monoxide

  • Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas. It results from the incomplete burning of natural gas, oil, wood, kerosene, charcoal and other fuels under conditions where there is not enough oxygen present.
  • Exposure to low levels of carbon monoxide can cause flu-like symptoms such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, extreme fatigue and shortness of breath. Higher levels can result in unconsciousness or death.
  • Carbon monoxide is most likely to accumulate inside homes during winter when the heating systems are in use and homes have been sealed and insulated against the cold.
  • Carbon monoxide can accumulate from:
    • furnaces, water heaters, boilers
    • wood stoves, fireplaces, charcoal grills
    • gas cooking stoves and clothes dryers
    • gas or kerosene space heaters
    • automobile exhaust

Carbon monoxide safety

  • Properly vent and maintain all fuel-burning appliances and heating devices.
  • Make sure your furnace has an adequate air supply.
  • Never use gas stoves, ovens or portable propane camping equipment to heat your home.
  • Have a qualified technician install and check furnaces and all fuel-burning appliances.
  • Install a UL-listed carbon monoxide detector - one which sounds an alarm. This is in addition to a working smoke detector.

Questions and answers about carbon monoxide from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Other indoor air hazards and safety information

  • Mold exposure can be a special problem during winter when homes are sealed up. Asthma or allergy symptoms can worsen.
  • Molds need an ample supply of moisture. Look for signs of excess moisture or water damage.
  • Radon can sometimes enter homes from the surrounding soil and accumulate in living areas, especially during winter.
  • All homes should be tested for radon as long term exposure to radon can contribute to many long term health problems, including lung cancer.
  • Contact your local health department to learn how to properly perform tests and interpret results.
  • If asbestos-containing material is disturbed by remodeling- something often done during winter- tiny fibers can be released into the surrounding air. Some home building products contained asbestos up to the mid 1980s. Repair or encapsulate the damaged material using hardware supplies and make sure the work is done by somebody trained in the proper handling of asbestos. Untrained individuals can expose themselves and others to asbestos.


Every home should have a working
carbon monoxide detector with an alarm.

Black mold can form on continuously wet wood
around windows.


Other helpful websites:

Indoor mold:

Center For Disease Control and Prevention


Environmental Protection Agency


Environmental Protection Agency

Occupational Safety and Health Administration


You can view the information for the other Winter Hazard Awareness Week topics using the links below:

Day 1 - Winter Weather Terms
Day 2 - Preparation
Day 3 - Travel Safety
Day 4 - Cold Weather Safety