Cold temperatures encourage homeowners to secure their homes and turn up the thermostat, elevating the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) exposure. Around 50,000 people in the U.S. visit the emergency room annually due to inadvertent CO poisoning, and more than 400 people die.
This odorless, tasteless, colorless gas is a byproduct of imperfect combustion, meaning that it’s produced any time a material burns. If the appliances in your home rely on natural gas, oil, propane, kerosene, wood, gasoline or charcoal, you’re vulnerable to CO inhalation. Find out what happens when you breathe in carbon monoxide gases and how to minimize your risk of poisoning this winter.
Often known as the “silent killer,” carbon monoxide is lethal because it stops the body from consuming oxygen properly. CO molecules dislodge oxygen in the blood, depriving the heart, brain, lungs and other vital organs of oxygen. Large volumes of CO can overwhelm your system in minutes, triggering loss of consciousness and suffocation. Without urgent care, brain damage or death could occur.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can also take place slowly if the concentration is fairly low. The most prevalent signs of CO inhalation include:
Since these symptoms resemble the flu, numerous people never find out they have carbon monoxide poisoning until minor symptoms evolve to organ damage. Be wary of symptoms that subside when you leave the house, suggesting the source could be originating from inside.
While CO poisoning is intimidating, it’s also entirely avoidable. Here are the top ways to protect your family from carbon monoxide gas.
If you ever use combustion appliances in or close to your home, you should add carbon monoxide detectors to alert you of CO emissions. These devices can be hardwired, battery-operated or plugged into an outlet based on the style. Here’s how to make the most of your carbon monoxide detectors:
Many appliances, including furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces and clothes dryers, may emit carbon monoxide if the system is installed poorly or not running as it should. A yearly maintenance visit is the only way to ensure if an appliance is malfunctioning before a leak develops.
A precision tune-up from Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing consists of the following:
If your gas furnace, boiler or water heater has developed a CO leak, or you want to prevent leaks before they happen, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing can help. Our HVAC and plumbing maintenance and repair services promote a safe, warm home all year-round. Contact your local Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing office for more info about carbon monoxide safety or to ask for heating services.
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