If the tornado damaged your chimney, make sure it’s safe before winter arrives

North Minneapolis residents whose homes have chimney damage from the May 22 tornado should take steps to make sure your chimney is safe before cold weather approaches. City inspectors have identified more than 200 properties that have chimney damage from the tornado, and the City is contacting each of those property owners to encourage them to schedule a carbon monoxide (CO) safety inspection before the winter heating season begins.    

Chimney damage could put you and your family in danger of CO poisoning by preventing CO from escaping through the chimney, which means it could accumulate inside, endangering your family and pets. CO is a poisonous gas that is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and non-irritating. It can, however, make you very sick or even kill you.  CO exposure can make you feel as if you have the flu, with headaches, nausea, fatigue, confusion, and dizziness that disappear when you breathe fresh air.

The City encourages anyone who thinks they may have chimney damage to get a CO safety inspection before the weather gets colder. CenterPoint Energy provides CO safety inspections and responds to any customer who has a concern regarding potential CO issues. The company does not charge fees for this service. To report a suspected CO safety issue, call 1-877-477-1664 and 911 to report the incident.

To keep your family safe, homeowners should also purchase a CO detection device with an audible alarm and digital display. You should install one within 10 feet of each bedroom or other room used for sleeping. Also, remember to check your CO detector batteries and to pay attention to the expiration date on the detector. Replace the device if it’s past its expiration date.

If you suspect CO exposure, take your family and pets and go outside. Then call 911. Fresh air is a good treatment for CO exposure, although severe exposure requires medical attention. Don’t return to your home until the source of the problem is discovered and corrected.

Published Oct. 20, 2011