Cold temperatures drive homeowners to seal up their homes and crank up the thermostat, increasing the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) inhalation. About 50,000 people in the U.S. end up in the emergency room annually due to inadvertent CO poisoning, and more than 400 people die.
This odorless, tasteless, colorless gas is a result of imperfect combustion, which means it’s created any time a material burns. If the appliances in your home use natural gas, oil, propane, kerosene, wood, gasoline or charcoal, you’re vulnerable to CO poisoning. Learn what happens when you inhale carbon monoxide gases and how to lower your risk of exposure this winter.
Commonly referred to as the “silent killer,” carbon monoxide is lethal because it prevents the body from processing oxygen correctly. CO molecules dislodge oxygen that’s part of the blood, depriving the heart, brain, lungs and other vital organs of oxygen. Large volumes of CO can overpower your system in minutes, triggering loss of consciousness and suffocation. Without prompt care, brain damage or death can occur.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can also occur slowly if the concentration is comparatively modest. The most prevalent signs of CO exposure include:
As these symptoms imitate the flu, numerous people won’t discover they have carbon monoxide poisoning until moderate symptoms advance to organ damage. Watch out for symptoms that lessen when you aren’t home, illustrating the source might be someplace inside.
While CO inhalation is alarming, it’s also entirely preventable. Here are the best ways to help your family avoid carbon monoxide gas.
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 devices can be hardwired, battery-operated or plugged into an outlet based on the style. Here’s how to reap all the benefits of your carbon monoxide detectors:
Many appliances, like furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces and clothes dryers, could leak carbon monoxide if the system is installed poorly or not running as it should. An annual maintenance visit is the only way to ensure if an appliance is faulty 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 sprung 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 promote 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 ask for heating services.
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