Winter temperatures lead homeowners to seal up their homes and crank up the thermostat, expanding the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) exposure. About 50,000 people in the U.S. visit the emergency room each year due to accidental CO poisoning, and more than 400 people die.
This odorless, tasteless, colorless gas is a byproduct of incomplete combustion, meaning that it’s created each time a material is burned. If some appliances in your home use natural gas, oil, propane, kerosene, wood, gasoline or charcoal, you’re at risk of CO inhalation. Find out what happens when you inhale carbon monoxide gases and how to reduce your risk of exposure this winter.
Frequently known as the “silent killer,” carbon monoxide is lethal because it prevents the body from using oxygen correctly. CO molecules dislodge oxygen within the blood, depriving the heart, brain, lungs and other vital organs of oxygen. Dense concentrations of CO can overpower your system in minutes, leading to loss of consciousness and suffocation. Without prompt care, brain damage or death can occur.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can also happen gradually if the concentration is relatively minimal. The most common signs of CO exposure include:
As these symptoms resemble the flu, numerous people won’t discover they have carbon monoxide poisoning until minor symptoms progress to organ damage. Watch out for symptoms that subside when you leave the house, illustrating the source could be someplace inside.
While CO poisoning is intimidating, it’s also entirely preventable. Here are the top ways to keep your family safe from carbon monoxide exposure.
If you ever run combustion appliances in or close to your home, you should install carbon monoxide detectors to notify you of CO leaks. These alarms can be hardwired, battery-operated or plugged into an outlet according to the style. Here’s how to make the most of your carbon monoxide detectors:
Several appliances, such as furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces and clothes dryers, can leak carbon monoxide if the appliance is installed incorrectly or not performing as it should. A yearly maintenance visit is the only way to know for sure if an appliance is defective 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 thwart leaks before they happen, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing can help. Our HVAC and plumbing maintenance and repair services encourage a safe, comfortable home all year-round. Call your local Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing office for more information about carbon monoxide safety or to request heating services.
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