PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — With freezing temperatures already moving into the area, first responders are making sure you make safe choices when warming up and avoid potential carbon monoxide exposure.

Parts of the Portland metro area, particularly Clackamas County, saw a number of deaths related to carbon monoxide during the area’s last major ice storm back in February 2021 and first responders want to prevent that from happening again.

The frigid temperatures and wind chills have many finally breaking out their heaters for the season. Fire officials advise having those sources checked out before severe weather.

“Anytime you fire up an old furnace or even a wood stove, gas, propane, anything like that, you want to make sure you have it serviced before you use it,” said Izak Hamilton with Clackamas Fire, adding around this time, some of these heating sources will put off carbon monoxide in your home — potentially fatal. “Because of the nature of carbon monoxide, there’s no way to detect it. Your nose won’t sniff it out, you can’t see it in the air and when you go to bed at night, you just won’t know.”

During the last major ice storm in February 2021, at least four people died of carbon monoxide poisoning in Clackamas County. Officials said those who died used everything from lighting charcoal indoors to using propane heating in RVs that malfunctioned.

There was also a close call in Gladstone that same weekend, where six adults were poisoned by carbon monoxide, some critically, after a generator was running inside a shed attached to the home with exhaust venting back inside through an open window.

“We do not encourage the use of propane heaters inside the house. It is pretty common this time of year,” said Hamilton. “As you know, people will even bring their generators inside. That exhaust and those fumes are just not meant to be in the house.”

Fire officials say it’s important to not only make sure you don’t use alternate heating sources indoors like BBQs and camp stoves or even use backup power like generators indoors during outages. It’s also important to check your carbon monoxide detectors monthly and if you don’t have one, contact your local fire department.

“Early detection can get you awake and even out of the house before you suffer any of the long-term effects or even, unfortunately, fatal effects of CO,” said Hamilton.

Some of the early signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include a headache, nausea, dizziness and confusion but officials warn it can be impossible to notice these if you’re asleep. If you believe you’re experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, first responders advise getting to fresh air as quickly as possible and calling the Oregon Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 for help or 911.