In January 2018, Karen Weiss’s son, Hunter, died of carbon monoxide poisoning. He and a friend were driving home when they decided to pull over to sleep and keep warm using a small propane heater.

“I’m sure the boys thought by having one window open that would be enough,” she says. “But I have since learned that you need to have a cross draft in order for that not to happen.”

Weiss says she wants to use this tragedy to help make sure this doesn’t happen to other families.

“I don’t want any other moms, or dads for that matter, to go through what I’ve gone through because it’s horrible and if we can just save one more life, then I’ve done my job,” Weiss says.

Experts warn heating devices that burn fossil fuels, such as portable camping and heating stoves, can produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.

“Those are the items that produce carbon monoxide and when it’s not properly ventilated, the person becomes sick with flu-like symptoms, headache and becomes nauseous,” Reno Fire Marshal Tray Palmer says.

“Don’t be afraid to call,” Palmer says. “That’s why you pay taxes. We’re here to respond.”

Palmer says RFD receives a higher volume of carbon monoxide related calls during the winter months because people turn on their heating systems and mistakenly warm their cars in garages. He recommends you to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home near the bedrooms.

The CDC has these additional tips:

– Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas or coal-burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year
– Do not use portable flame less chemical heaters indoors
– Never use a generator inside your home, basement or garage or less than 20 feet from any window, door or vent; fatal levels of carbon monoxide can be produced in just minutes
– Have your chimney checked and cleaned every year, and make sure your fireplace damper is open before lighting a fire and well after the fire is extinguished
– Make sure your gas appliances are vented properly
– Never use a gas oven for heating your home
– Never let a car idle in the garage
– Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

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