Cold temperatures encourage homeowners to batten down their homes and turn up the thermostat, elevating the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) inhalation. Around 50,000 people in the U.S. go to the emergency room annually because of inadvertent CO poisoning, and more than 400 people die.
This odorless, tasteless, colorless gas is a result of incomplete combustion, meaning that it’s released every time a material burns. If any appliances in your home use natural gas, oil, propane, kerosene, wood, gasoline or charcoal, you’re at risk of CO exposure. Find out what happens when you breathe in carbon monoxide gases and how to lower your risk of poisoning this winter.
Often referred to as the “silent killer,” carbon monoxide is lethal because it stops the body from taking in oxygen correctly. CO molecules displace oxygen within the blood, starving the heart, brain, lungs and other vital organs of oxygen. Large amounts of CO can overwhelm your system in minutes, leading to 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 low. The most common signs of CO exposure include:
As these symptoms imitate the flu, numerous people don’t learn they have carbon monoxide poisoning until minor symptoms advance to organ damage. Be wary of symptoms that subside when you leave home, suggesting the source might be somewhere inside.
While CO poisoning is intimidating, it’s also entirely avoidable. Here are the best ways to keep your family safe from carbon monoxide poisoning.
If you ever use combustion appliances in or close to your home, you should install carbon monoxide detectors to alert you of CO gas. These alarms can be hardwired, battery-operated or plugged into an outlet based on the style. Here’s how to reap all the benefits of your carbon monoxide detectors:
Multiple appliances, including furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces and clothes dryers, could emit carbon monoxide if the system is installed incorrectly or not performing as it should. A once-a-year maintenance visit is the only way to know for sure 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 sprung 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. Call your local Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing office for more information about carbon monoxide safety or to ask for heating services.
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