How to avoid carbon-monoxide poisoning when cooking Thanksgiving turkey

Turkey, duck, chicken or turducken — whatever you're cooking on Thanksgiving, make sure you're not whipping up a dangerous side of carbon monoxide.

With a busy holiday and a house full of guests, it can be easy to leave the oven on and forget to ventilate properly, officials warn. The Baltimore Fire Department saw an "alarming strike," with 45 calls last Thanksgiving for carbon monoxide alarms, nearly five times as many as the average day, spokesman Ian Brennan said.


"It's a completely preventable situation on Thanksgiving Day," he said.

For starters, make sure you have a functioning carbon monoxide alarm as well as a smoke detector. Because the gas is colorless and odorless, it often goes undetected until people start getting dizzy or experiencing headaches, so an alarm is the best way to detect it early.


Though outside temperatures are expected to be in the 30s, crack a window and turn on the fan while you cook to allow the room to ventilate.

Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms, according to the fire department, include: headaches, loss of hearing, dizziness, blurry vision, weakness, vomiting, nausea, disorientation, rapid heartbeat, seizures, loss of consciousness, coma, cardiac arrest and respiratory failure. Call 911 and leave the house if you experience these symptoms.

A good way to test whether carbon monoxide is in the air is by turning on a gas stove, Brennan said. If it burns orange with smoke or unlit burners, that can indicate carbon monoxide.

And never bring propane grills or turkey deep-fryers inside, as they can pose dangerous carbon monoxide risks.

"Carbon monoxide poisoning is something few people think about as they prepare for holiday festivities," acting Baltimore Fire Chief Jeffrey Segal said in a statement. "However, while in the kitchen cooking on Thanksgiving – sometimes for hours – CO can build up, and puts you and your family at risk for CO poisoning. It is important to take precautions and stay alert while working in the kitchen."

On a related note, house fires are common on Thanksgiving as well. The department is reminding residents to keep any flammable materials away from the stove and oven, stay alert and don't leave the kitchen unattended if you're cooking.

If you don't have a smoke alarm, call 311 to request free installation with a 10-year battery.