Icy temperatures encourage homeowners to secure their homes and turn up the thermostat, increasing the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. About 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, which means it’s created any time a material is burned. If the appliances in your home use natural gas, oil, propane, kerosene, wood, gasoline or charcoal, you’re susceptible to CO poisoning. Find out what happens when you inhale carbon monoxide gases and how to lower your risk of exposure this winter.
Often referred to as the “silent killer,” carbon monoxide is lethal because it stops the body from taking in oxygen properly. CO molecules dislodge oxygen within the blood, depriving the heart, brain, lungs and other vital organs of oxygen. Large amounts of CO can overwhelm your system in minutes, triggering loss of consciousness and suffocation. Without immediate care, brain damage or death may occur.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can also occur gradually if the concentration is comparatively low. The most frequent signs of CO inhalation include:
As these symptoms resemble the flu, many people won’t find out they have carbon monoxide poisoning until moderate symptoms evolve to organ damage. Be wary of symptoms that subside when you leave home, indicating the source may be originating from inside.
While CO exposure is intimidating, it’s also entirely avoidable. Here are the ideal ways to help your family avoid carbon monoxide exposure.
If you ever use combustion appliances in or near your home, you should install carbon monoxide detectors to warn you of CO gas. These devices 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:
Multiple appliances, including furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces and clothes dryers, may emit carbon monoxide if the equipment is installed incorrectly or not working as it should. A once-a-year maintenance visit is the only way to ensure if an appliance is defective 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 help provide a safe, warm home all year-round. Contact your local Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing office for more information about carbon monoxide safety or to request heating services.
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