Cold temperatures encourage homeowners to batten down their homes and crank up the thermostat, increasing the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) inhalation. Close to 50,000 people in the U.S. go to the emergency room every year because of unintended CO poisoning, and more than 400 people die.
This odorless, tasteless, colorless gas is a byproduct of incomplete combustion, meaning that it’s produced each time a material burns. If some appliances in your home rely on natural gas, oil, propane, kerosene, wood, gasoline or charcoal, you’re susceptible to CO poisoning. Find out what happens when you breathe in carbon monoxide fumes and how to reduce your risk of poisoning this winter.
Commonly called the “silent killer,” carbon monoxide is lethal because it prevents the body from taking in oxygen appropriately. CO molecules displace oxygen within the blood, depriving the heart, brain, lungs and other vital organs of oxygen. Dense concentrations of CO can overwhelm 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 progressively if the concentration is relatively low. The most frequent signs of CO exposure include:
Since these symptoms mimic the flu, numerous people never find out they have carbon monoxide poisoning until mild symptoms advance to organ damage. Be wary of symptoms that lessen when you leave home, indicating the source might be originating from inside.
While CO exposure is frightening, it’s also entirely avoidable. Here are the best ways to help your family avoid carbon monoxide exposure.
If you ever operate combustion appliances in or close to your home, you should put in carbon monoxide detectors to warn you of CO leaks. These detectors 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, such as furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces and clothes dryers, can leak carbon monoxide if the equipment is installed incorrectly or not performing as it should. An annual maintenance visit is the only way to ensure 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 sprung a CO leak, or you want to thwart 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. 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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