Over the last three weeks, Moose Jaw has received a lot of snow, which could be building up around your house.  

What people want to watch out for is that snow is not blocking their furnace or hot water tank exhaust vents, as that could send carbon monoxide back into their house.  

“Carbon monoxide is called the silent killer,” says Moose Jaw Fire Department Public Information Officer, Cathie Bassett. “If you don’t have working carbon monoxide detectors in your home it’s not going to let you know, you’re not going to smell it, and going to start feeling sick. People that get sick first are usually your children because they’re smaller or your pets. If you don’t clear your vent, CO will back up into your house, and it will be deadly for you.” 

There is no specific distance around those vents that needs to be cleared, but Bassett recommends clearing that area as much as you can to prevent any blockage or backup of carbon monoxide.  

“It looks like we’re in for a lot of snow backing up into piles and if you have a snowblower or if you can just shovel it away and make sure everything is cleared off.” 

Also, Bassett suggests taking a quick peek inside those exhaust vents to make sure mice or snow hasn’t collected inside that will cause the CO to filter back into your home.  

CO is an invisible, odourless, poisonous gas that is most often produced when fuel-burning appliances – like furnaces, boilers, fireplaces, stoves, clothes dryers and water heaters – malfunction.  

Exposure to CO may lead to confusion, drowsiness, loss of consciousness, brain damage, and death. Between 2018 and 2020, an average of 1,200 CO incidents were reported annually to SaskEnergy. 

In preparation, Bassett reminds residents to have working CO detectors inside their house.  

“They are a little different from your smoke alarms. CO is a little different as it is more to the ground. Always check your manufactures instructions when you buy a CO alarm, they will give detailed instructions on how to place them.” 

The province says that in houses with fuel-burning appliances or a garage, detectors must be installed inside each sleeping room or at least 16 feet from the door to each bedroom - this allows residents to hear the alarm during the night.   

They add smoke alarms must be installed in buildings with bedrooms on every floor, between rooms, and inside each bedroom.   

There are many different types of alarms available to suit your circumstances and building layout: hard-wired alarms, 10-year battery-operated alarms, and in the case of CO alarms, ones that can be plugged into your electrical socket.