Cold temperatures encourage homeowners to secure their homes and raise the thermostat, elevating the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Close to 50,000 people in the U.S. visit the emergency room every year because of accidental 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 burns. If some appliances in your home run on natural gas, oil, propane, kerosene, wood, gasoline or charcoal, you’re vulnerable to CO exposure. Find out what happens when you inhale carbon monoxide fumes and how to minimize your risk of exposure this winter.
Often known as the “silent killer,” carbon monoxide is lethal because it keeps the body from using oxygen appropriately. CO molecules dislodge oxygen that’s part of the blood, starving the heart, brain, lungs and other vital organs of oxygen. Dense concentrations of CO can overwhelm your system in minutes, causing loss of consciousness and suffocation. Without urgent care, brain damage or death can occur.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can also take place progressively if the concentration is comparatively minimal. The most prevalent signs of CO inhalation include:
Since these symptoms resemble the flu, numerous people don’t learn they have carbon monoxide poisoning until minor symptoms advance to organ damage. Look out for symptoms that decrease when you leave the house, indicating the source might be originating from inside.
While CO exposure is alarming, it’s also entirely avoidable. Here are the top ways to help your family avoid carbon monoxide exposure.
If you ever use combustion appliances in or close to your home, you should install carbon monoxide detectors to alert you of CO leaks. These alarms can be hardwired, battery-operated or plugged into an outlet depending on the style. Here’s how to take full advantage of your carbon monoxide detectors:
Several appliances, such as furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces and clothes dryers, could release carbon monoxide if the equipment is installed improperly or not running as it should. An annual maintenance visit is the only way to ensure if an appliance is malfunctioning before a leak develops.
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. Call your local Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing office for more information about carbon monoxide safety or to schedule heating services.
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