Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue has seen a rise in carbon monoxide alarms this week, as the use of stoves furnaces and fireplaces - which burn materials that can produce the odorless and invisible, but poisonous gas - increases.
The department has responded to eight CO alarms since October, and seven of those instances the gas was in fact found in dangerous levels inside the residence. Four of those calls were in January alone.
"There has been a spade of these, but that's not to be unexpected in the winter," Lake Dillon spokesman Steve Lipsher said. "I'm gratified that people who had CO detectors going off called 911 and, for the most part, evacuated. That's exactly what we want to have happen."
Fire officials said in all instances working carbon monoxide detectors warned residents of the danger in time and emphasized the importance of equipping residences with detectors. Only one person suffered symptoms of exposure.
"Because the CO detectors alerted the residents, they were able to escape without harm and called 911," fire chief Dave Parmley stated in a release from the department. "Our crews then would go inside - wearing full self-contained breathing apparatuses - and find the build up of carbon monoxide to be at dangerous levels. Because carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless, residents would not know they were in peril had it not been for the CO detectors."
Colorado lawmakers passed a law several years ago requiring owners of all rental properties statewide to install carbon monoxide detectors, following several high-profile cases of fatalities caused by CO poisoning. But Lake Dillon fire officials urge property owners and residents to install them in all units where people live.
The early symptoms of CO exposure include headache, nausea and drowsiness.
Detectors sell for roughly $20-$40. Fire officials recommend placing them in a central location outside each sleeping area on every level of the home.
Carbon-monoxide poisoning kills more than 150 people annually in the U.S.