Cold temperatures drive homeowners to seal up their homes and raise the thermostat, increasing the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) exposure. Around 50,000 people in the U.S. visit the emergency room annually as a result of inadvertent CO poisoning, and more than 400 people die.
This odorless, tasteless, colorless gas is a byproduct of imperfect combustion, meaning that it’s released any time a material is combusted or used for fuel. If some appliances in your home run on natural gas, oil, propane, kerosene, wood, gasoline or charcoal, you’re susceptible to CO poisoning. Find out what happens when you breathe in carbon monoxide gases and how to lower your risk of exposure this winter.
Commonly known as the “silent killer,” carbon monoxide is lethal because it prevents the body from processing oxygen properly. CO molecules dislodge oxygen that’s part of the blood, depriving the heart, brain, lungs and other vital organs of oxygen. Large volumes of CO can overpower your system in minutes, causing loss of consciousness and suffocation. Without immediate care, brain damage or death could occur.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can also happen progressively if the concentration is comparatively minimal. The most common signs of CO poisoning include:
As these symptoms mimic the flu, many people never learn they have carbon monoxide poisoning until moderate symptoms advance to organ damage. Be wary of symptoms that lessen when you leave the house, indicating the source might be somewhere inside.
While CO poisoning is frightening, it’s also entirely avoidable. Here are the ideal ways to keep your family safe from carbon monoxide gas.
If you ever run combustion appliances in or around your home, you should put in carbon monoxide detectors to alert you of CO emissions. These alarms can be hardwired, battery-operated or plugged into an outlet according to the style. Here’s how to take full advantage of your carbon monoxide detectors:
Several appliances, including furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces and clothes dryers, could emit carbon monoxide if the appliance is installed poorly or not running as it should. A yearly maintenance visit is the only way to ensure if an appliance is faulty before a leak develops.
A precision tune-up from Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing includes the following:
If your gas furnace, boiler or water heater has sprung a CO leak, or you want to stop leaks before they happen, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing can help. Our HVAC and plumbing maintenance and repair services help provide a safe, comfortable home all year-round. Get in touch with your local Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing office for more details about carbon monoxide safety or to ask for heating services.
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