Winter temperatures encourage homeowners to secure their homes and turn up the thermostat, expanding the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) exposure. About 50,000 people in the U.S. go to 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 imperfect combustion, meaning it’s released every time a material is combusted or used for fuel. If some appliances in your home use natural gas, oil, propane, kerosene, wood, gasoline or charcoal, you’re susceptible to CO inhalation. Find out what happens when you inhale carbon monoxide gases and how to minimize your risk of poisoning this winter.
Frequently known as the “silent killer,” carbon monoxide is lethal because it keeps the body from taking in oxygen correctly. CO molecules displace oxygen within the blood, depriving the heart, brain, lungs and other vital organs of oxygen. Large amounts of CO can overtake your system in minutes, causing loss of consciousness and suffocation. Without prompt care, brain damage or death can occur.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can also happen slowly if the concentration is comparatively minimal. The most prevalent signs of CO exposure include:
As these symptoms imitate the flu, a lot of people never find out they have carbon monoxide poisoning until minor symptoms advance to organ damage. Watch out for symptoms that subside when you leave home, illustrating the source might be somewhere inside.
While CO poisoning is alarming, it’s also entirely avoidable. Here are the ideal ways to protect your family from carbon monoxide gas.
If you ever operate combustion appliances in or around your home, you should install carbon monoxide detectors to warn you of CO leaks. These detectors can be hardwired, battery-operated or plugged into an outlet depending on 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 release carbon monoxide if the equipment 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 appears.
A precision tune-up from Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing includes 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. Call your local Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing office for more info about carbon monoxide safety or to request heating services.
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