Icy temperatures lead homeowners to secure their homes and turn up the thermostat, expanding the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) exposure. Close to 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 result of imperfect combustion, which means it’s released 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 susceptible to CO inhalation. Learn what happens when you inhale carbon monoxide gases and how to lower your risk of poisoning this winter.
Often called the “silent killer,” carbon monoxide is lethal because it prevents the body from taking in oxygen correctly. CO molecules uproot oxygen that’s part of the blood, starving 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 urgent care, brain damage or death may occur.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can also occur slowly if the concentration is relatively modest. The most common signs of CO poisoning include:
As these symptoms mimic the flu, many people never discover they have carbon monoxide poisoning until mild symptoms advance to organ damage. Be wary of symptoms that lessen when you aren’t home, indicating the source could be originating from inside.
While CO poisoning is alarming, it’s also entirely avoidable. Here are the best ways to protect your family from carbon monoxide gas.
If you ever use combustion appliances in or near your home, you should put in carbon monoxide detectors to alert you of CO gas. 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:
Multiple appliances, such as furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces and clothes dryers, could release carbon monoxide if the equipment is installed incorrectly or not running as it should. A once-a-year maintenance visit is the only way to know for sure if an appliance is defective 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 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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