Prevent ice dams outside and carbon monoxide poisoning inside with these tips from American Family Insurance

Madison, Wis. (Nov. 20, 2009) — Prevent winter weather problems like ice dams and carbon monoxide poisoning by following some simple and effective tips provided by American Family Insurance.

Following heavy snowfalls and temperatures near freezing, ice dams can form on rooftops when melting snow runs down the slope of the roof and refreezes at the edge. As more melting snow accumulates behind the ice, the water can seep into the home, causing property damage to drywall, carpeting and cabinets. In serious cases, it can even collapse ceilings.

How to prevent ice dams:

Inside your home

Carbon monoxide — often called the "silent killer" because it's nearly impossible to detect without a monitor — is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that is created when fossil fuels (such as gasoline, liquid petroleum or LP gas, wood, coal, charcoal, propane, natural gas, oil and methane) burn incompletely. Thousands of people are treated for carbon monoxide poisoning each year in emergency rooms and hundreds die.

Sources of carbon monoxide include many appliances used during cold weather months such as oil and gas furnaces, gas water heaters, wood and gas fireplaces, gas ranges and ovens, gas dryers, gas or kerosene space heaters and wood stoves.

Low levels of carbon monoxide can cause shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea and mild headaches. Moderate levels can cause severe headaches, dizziness, mental confusion and possibly fainting. If these levels continue or grow, the results can be fatal. 

Follow these tips compiled by American Family Insurance from the Consumer Protection Safety Commission (CPSC), Centers for Disease Control and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in your home:

If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, get fresh air immediately and see a doctor. Have a qualified technician inspect your fuel-burning appliances and chimneys to make sure they are operating correctly and/or to find the source of carbon monoxide.

Based in Madison, Wis., American Family Insurance offers auto insurance, homeowners insurance, life insurance, health insurance, business and farm/ranch insurance in 19 states. American Family insurance is the nationís third-largest mutual property/casualty insurance company and ranks 388th on the Fortune 500 list. Web:; Facebook:; Twitter: