Cold temperatures drive homeowners to batten down their homes and turn up the thermostat, elevating the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) exposure. About 50,000 people in the U.S. visit the emergency room annually as a result of unintended CO poisoning, and more than 400 people die.
This odorless, tasteless, colorless gas is a side effect of incomplete combustion, which means it’s produced every time a material burns. If any appliances in your home use natural gas, oil, propane, kerosene, wood, gasoline or charcoal, you’re at risk of CO inhalation. Learn what happens when you breathe carbon monoxide emissions and how to lower your risk of poisoning this winter.
Frequently referred to as the “silent killer,” carbon monoxide is lethal because it stops the body from processing oxygen correctly. CO molecules uproot oxygen that’s part of the blood, depriving the heart, brain, lungs and other vital organs of oxygen. Large amounts of CO can overpower your system in minutes, triggering loss of consciousness and suffocation. Without immediate care, brain damage or death could occur.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can also happen gradually if the concentration is relatively minimal. The most frequent signs of CO exposure include:
Since these symptoms mimic the flu, a lot of people won’t find out they have carbon monoxide poisoning until mild symptoms evolve to organ damage. Watch out for symptoms that decrease when you aren’t home, indicating the source could be someplace inside.
While CO inhalation is frightening, 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 add carbon monoxide detectors to alert you of CO leaks. These detectors can be hardwired, battery-operated or plugged into an outlet according to the style. Here’s how to take full advantage of your carbon monoxide detectors:
Multiple appliances, like furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces and clothes dryers, may leak carbon monoxide if the system is installed improperly or not running as it should. An annual maintenance visit is the only way to know for sure if an appliance is malfunctioning before a leak develops.
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 stop leaks before they happen, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing can help. Our HVAC and plumbing maintenance and repair services encourage a safe, warm home all year-round. Call your local Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing office for more details about carbon monoxide safety or to schedule heating services.
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