Winter temperatures encourage homeowners to batten down their homes and turn up the thermostat, expanding the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. About 50,000 people in the U.S. visit the emergency room each year as a result of accidental CO poisoning, and more than 400 people die.
This odorless, tasteless, colorless gas is a side effect of incomplete combustion, meaning it’s created each time a material is burned. If some appliances in your home use natural gas, oil, propane, kerosene, wood, gasoline or charcoal, you’re at risk of CO poisoning. Find out what happens when you breathe carbon monoxide fumes and how to lower your risk of poisoning this winter.
Commonly known as the “silent killer,” carbon monoxide is lethal because it prevents the body from consuming oxygen appropriately. CO molecules displace oxygen that’s part of the blood, depriving the heart, brain, lungs and other vital organs of oxygen. Large volumes of CO can overwhelm your system in minutes, leading to loss of consciousness and suffocation. Without urgent care, brain damage or death may occur.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can also happen progressively if the concentration is relatively low. The most common signs of CO exposure include:
As these symptoms resemble the flu, a lot of people won’t discover they have carbon monoxide poisoning until moderate symptoms evolve to organ damage. Watch out for symptoms that decrease when you leave home, suggesting the source may be originating from inside.
While CO exposure is alarming, it’s also entirely preventable. Here are the ideal ways to help your family avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
If you ever use combustion appliances in or around your home, you should install carbon monoxide detectors to alert you of CO emissions. These devices can be hardwired, battery-operated or plugged into an outlet according to the style. Here’s how to make the most of your carbon monoxide detectors:
Many appliances, including furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces and clothes dryers, may release carbon monoxide if the appliance is installed poorly or not working as it should. A yearly 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 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 details about carbon monoxide safety or to ask for heating services.
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