Carbon monoxide poisoning in ice shelters

showing four different types of ice shelters from homemade, pop-up and hardside

Minnesota ice anglers are pretty hardy folks, but many of us still enjoy a heated shelter to warm up in when spending a day or night on the ice. If you're heating your ice shelter this winter with propane gas, make sure you are taking the proper precautions to avoid the life-threatening risks of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, tasteless, and invisible gas produced whenever fuel is burned. Propane heaters use oxygen from the air for combustion, and release CO as a byproduct. Without proper ventilation, CO levels can build up inside your ice shelter without you knowing and can quickly cause illness or death. Be aware of the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. It can feel like you're coming down with the flu. Immediately get to fresh air if you suspect CO poisoning.

Signs and symptoms of CO poisoning:

  • headache
  • nausea
  • shortness of breath
  • fatigue
  • dizziness
  • mental confusion

Stay safe: Every ice shelter should have a carbon monoxide detector. Be sure to test your detector regularly and keep your vents clear.

Did you know?

Every shelter heated with propane needs a vent near the top and bottom of the shelter. Make sure to have an opening within one foot of the ground to allow fresh air to enter the shelter, as well as an opening near the top of your shelter to allow the CO inside the tent to flow up and out.

Snow can block your air vents and cause CO levels to build up in your shelter. Always keep your vents clear of snow and ice. If you have a wheelhouse shelter, make sure to keep your ceiling vents open and free of snow. A carbon monoxide detector could save your life if your vents become blocked with snow during the night.

Do not rely on your ventilation system or “low oxygen shut-off” sensors to work properly. It is always a good idea to have a CO detector in your shelter in the event of unexpected malfunction. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when choosing where to place your detector within your shelter.

carbon monoxide detector

Carbon monoxide detector

Carbon monoxide detectors need to be replaced when they expire. Sensors within the CO detectors have an average life span of 5 years. Newer models have a printed expiration date or alert system notifying the user when to replace the system. Some new models have a longer life span.

Propane cylinders should remain outside your shelter at all times. The only exception being with small portable heaters – you may have a small (1lb) propane cylinder in your shelter.

Never use sunflower type heaters inside your shelter. Only use heaters designated for indoor use.

To learn more about the dangers of carbon monoxide and how to protect yourself, visit the following websites:

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