Crews encourage safe heating after carbon monoxide poisoning incidents in Roanoke County

We’re told they were trying to heat their homes with charcoal grills

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – Roanoke County Fire and Rescue is spreading the message about how important it is to heat your home safety when cold weather conditions roll around.

Over the holiday weekend, crews responded to two separate incidents in which people trying to heat their homes with charcoal grills. From those incidents, seven people were hospitalized due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless chemical, which makes it hard for people to detect unsafe levels. Burning charcoal can produce the chemical.

Brian Clingenpeel, the Outreach Coordinator for Roanoke Fire and Rescue, said people were acting quickly to beat the cold.

“It was just kind of this perfect combination of … we had power outages, we had extremely cold temperatures and we had the holidays. I think people were very desperate for some heat and just looking for any resources that they could find,” Clingenpeel said.

One of his biggest worries is there is still plenty of more cold weather to come.

“We don’t want to have this happen again. So we want to get that message out there, please do not use things like grills or even your oven … anything that’s not meant to heat your home should not be used to heat your home and it’s for a safety reason,” Clingenpeel said.

Both of the homes did not have a carbon monoxide alarm. The alarms would have been able to detect the high levels from the grills.

Most alarms have separate battery packs and can work even when there is a power outage.

The department said you should never bring things like a grill inside your home and to try to use it as a heating device. Instead, they suggest the following:

  • Don’t use devices like ovens or grills to heat your home,
  • Get a carbon monoxide alarm,
  • Check on your neighbors during power outages, especially during extreme weather.

About the Author

Connor Dietrich joined the 10 News team in June 2022. Originally from Castle Rock, Colorado, he's ready to step away from the Rockies and step into the Blue Ridge scenery.

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