Earth Gauge: Heat Safely During Winter Storms

Americans spend up to 90 percent of their time inside. During winter storms, many people warm up with gas heating equipment or fires in fireplaces and wood-burning stoves. While it is extremely important to stay warm, please remember that indoor air pollution levels can rise significantly during winter storm events, when homes are closed up and ventilation may be poor.

Major pollutants released by gas heating and wood-burning include small particles, which can irritate airways and lung tissue; nitrogen oxide, which can irritate eyes, nose, and throat; and carbon monoxide, a potentially deadly odorless, colorless gas.

Viewer Tip:

Poor indoor air quality can be especially troublesome for individuals with heart or lung diseases, including asthma.

  • Prevent pollutants from building up in one room by keeping doors open to other rooms, making sure air can circulate throughout your home.

  • If you are building a fire, be sure that the fireplace damper is open â?? smoke inside your home is a signal that your fireplace or stove is not working correctly.

  • Never use gas ranges, ovens, or clothes dryers, charcoal grills, or other un-vented fuel-burning appliances to heat your home. Do not run a portable generator in an enclosed or partially-enclosed space. These items can result in dangerous levels of carbon monoxide gas in your home.

(Source: EPA. â??Introduction to Indoor Air Quality: Sources of Combustion Products.â??; The American Lung Association. â??Carbon Monoxide Fact Sheet.â??; Earth Gauge.