Protecting Yourself Against Carbon Monoxide 


By Mia Birkes 

The subject of this article was inspired by the love and community shown to the Richey family following the passing of Felecia Richey and her sons, Tysin and Bentley, at Inman Motocross in September. I extend my deepest condolences to Jason Richey and family. I hope this article can promote awareness and conversation related to carbon monoxide safety. More information related to supporting the Richey family, as well as carbon monoxide handouts, is available on Inman Motocross’s Facebook page. 

As we quickly approach cooler weather, carbon monoxide poisoning becomes a much greater threat. In enclosed spaces, carbon monoxide (CO) from appliances like furnaces, kerosene heaters, stoves, lanterns, gas ranges and portable generators, can accumulate to deadly amounts. In order to lower the risks associated with CO, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following: 

  • Check or change batteries in CO detectors every six months. 
  • Service all heating systems and generators at least once a year. 
  • Keep vents open and clear to allow proper ventilation. 
  • If you start your vehicle to warm it up while in the garage, open the garage door to allow CO to escape. Better yet, pull your vehicle out of the garage to warm it up. 
  • Never use charcoal or gas grills (including camping stoves) inside houses, tents, or campers. 
  • Portable generators must be a minimum of five feet from your camper AND from neighboring campers. Inman Motocross recommends at least ten feet. The CDC recommends at least twenty feet. 

Because CO is odorless, it can be extremely difficult to detect. People who are sleeping or have been drinking alcohol are much more susceptible and may die before ever showing or experiencing symptoms. If you suspect that you or someone else may be suffering from CO poisoning, call 911 immediately. Symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. 

As this applies to the campus community, please take extra caution when camping or using heaters, stoves, lanterns, or generators in and around sheds and shops. One death is too many, and I want to see everyone safe throughout the winter. 


  1. This is such an important issue. Mia Birkes does an excellent job of informing us. I have heard of two recent car-running-in-garage cases in which one ended in a death inside the home. Mia’s suggestion of pulling the car out of the garage while it is warming up just might save lives. Great article.


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