Cold temperatures lead homeowners to batten down their homes and crank up the thermostat, increasing the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Around 50,000 people in the U.S. end up in the emergency room each year because of unintended CO poisoning, and more than 400 people die.
This odorless, tasteless, colorless gas is a result of incomplete combustion, which means it’s created each time a material is combusted or used for fuel. If any appliances in your home use natural gas, oil, propane, kerosene, wood, gasoline or charcoal, you’re vulnerable to CO poisoning. Find out 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 keeps the body from using oxygen correctly. CO molecules displace oxygen within the blood, starving the heart, brain, lungs and other vital organs of oxygen. Dense concentrations of CO can overtake your system in minutes, leading to loss of consciousness and suffocation. Without prompt care, brain damage or death may occur.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can also occur progressively if the concentration is relatively minimal. The most common signs of CO inhalation include:
Because these symptoms mimic the flu, many people don’t find out they have carbon monoxide poisoning until moderate symptoms advance to organ damage. Look out for symptoms that lessen when you aren’t home, suggesting the source could be somewhere inside.
While CO poisoning is alarming, it’s also entirely avoidable. Here are the ideal ways to help your family avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
If you ever use combustion appliances in or close to your home, you should install carbon monoxide detectors to notify you of CO emissions. These alarms can be hardwired, battery-operated or plugged into an outlet based on the style. Here’s how to make the most of your carbon monoxide detectors:
Many appliances, like furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces and clothes dryers, can leak carbon monoxide if the appliance is installed poorly or not working as it should. An annual 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 consists of the following:
If your gas furnace, boiler or water heater has formed 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. 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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