Winter temperatures drive homeowners to secure their homes and raise the thermostat, expanding the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) exposure. Around 50,000 people in the U.S. go to the emergency room annually due to inadvertent CO poisoning, and more than 400 people die.
This odorless, tasteless, colorless gas is a side effect of imperfect combustion, which means it’s created every time a material is combusted or used for fuel. If the appliances in your home rely on natural gas, oil, propane, kerosene, wood, gasoline or charcoal, you’re vulnerable to CO exposure. Learn what happens when you inhale carbon monoxide gases and how to lower your risk of exposure this winter.
Often known as the “silent killer,” carbon monoxide is lethal because it stops the body from processing oxygen appropriately. CO molecules displace oxygen that’s part of the blood, starving the heart, brain, lungs and other vital organs of oxygen. Large amounts of CO can overwhelm your system in minutes, triggering loss of consciousness and suffocation. Without prompt care, brain damage or death could occur.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can also occur slowly if the concentration is comparatively low. The most common signs of CO exposure include:
Since these symptoms imitate the flu, many people won’t learn they have carbon monoxide poisoning until minor symptoms progress to organ damage. Be wary of symptoms that lessen when you leave home, illustrating the source may be originating from inside.
While CO inhalation is frightening, it’s also entirely avoidable. Here are the best ways to protect your family from carbon monoxide gas.
If you ever run combustion appliances in or around your home, you should put in carbon monoxide detectors to alert you of CO gas. These devices can be hardwired, battery-operated or plugged into an outlet according to the style. Here’s how to reap all the benefits of your carbon monoxide detectors:
Many appliances, including furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces and clothes dryers, could release carbon monoxide if the system is installed incorrectly or not working as it should. An annual maintenance visit is the only way to know for sure if an appliance is faulty 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 formed a CO leak, or you want to stop leaks before they happen, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing can help. Our HVAC and plumbing maintenance and repair services help provide a safe, comfortable home all year-round. Call 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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