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AFD warns against deadly alternative heating methods

The Austin Fire Department says their carbon monoxide concerns increase in the winter because people are trying to find creative ways to stay warm. (CBS Austin)

An improperly used heater leaves three generations of one family dead. According to the Brown County Sheriff’s Office, it happened outside Brownwood -- about 140 miles northwest of Austin. The sheriff’s office says two men and a teen used a propane heater to keep their cabin at a deer camp warm and died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

The Austin Fire Department says their carbon monoxide concerns increase in the winter because people are trying to find creative ways to stay warm. For example, people are inclined to bring outdoor heaters indoors despite the lack of ventilation inside. The fire department warms against using any unconventional methods to warm your home.

“When we have an extended cold snap we see people trying to keep themselves warm but maybe making some bad choices,” says Palmer Buck, Austin Fire Department Division Chief.

Buck says, when people start coming up with alternative heating methods they put themselves at risk.

“Don’t bring things that are carbon monoxide-producing inside the home. Propane heaters and kerosene heaters produce significant amounts of carbon monoxide,” Buck explains.

He says, the colorless, odorless gas can be hard to detect.

“You can’t feel it, sense it, see it or touch it,” he says. However, when the gas builds up, there are deadly consequences.

“You don’t know that you’re getting sick before you’re overpowered,” Buck says.

As Central Texas braves a few more days of bitterly cold temperatures, AFD says people should make sure their fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are working -- and that they only use safe methods to heat up homes.

AFD also warns against using your stove or oven to heat your home -- even if they’re electric. Carbon monoxide may not be a threat but starting a fire is a risk.

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