Cold temperatures encourage homeowners to seal up their homes and raise the thermostat, increasing the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Around 50,000 people in the U.S. go to the emergency room every year as a result of accidental 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 is combusted or used for fuel. If any appliances in your home run on natural gas, oil, propane, kerosene, wood, gasoline or charcoal, you’re at risk of CO poisoning. Learn what happens when you inhale carbon monoxide gases and how to minimize your risk of poisoning this winter.
Often referred to as the “silent killer,” carbon monoxide is lethal because it stops the body from consuming oxygen appropriately. CO molecules uproot oxygen that’s part of the blood, depriving the heart, brain, lungs and other vital organs of oxygen. Dense concentrations of CO can overtake your system in minutes, causing loss of consciousness and suffocation. Without prompt care, brain damage or death may occur.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can also occur gradually if the concentration is comparatively modest. The most frequent signs of CO inhalation include:
Because these symptoms imitate the flu, many people won’t learn they have carbon monoxide poisoning until mild symptoms progress to organ damage. Be wary of symptoms that subside when you aren’t home, suggesting the source might be somewhere inside.
While CO exposure is frightening, it’s also entirely preventable. Here are the ideal ways to help your family avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
If you ever use combustion appliances in or around your home, you should put in carbon monoxide detectors to warn you of CO emissions. These alarms can be hardwired, battery-operated or plugged into an outlet depending on the style. Here’s how to reap all the benefits of your carbon monoxide detectors:
Many appliances, such as 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 know for sure if an appliance is malfunctioning before a leak appears.
A precision tune-up from Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing offers 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, warm home all year-round. Get in touch with your local Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing office for more info about carbon monoxide safety or to schedule heating services.
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