Icy temperatures drive homeowners to batten down their homes and turn up the thermostat, increasing the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) exposure. Close to 50,000 people in the U.S. visit the emergency room each year due to inadvertent CO poisoning, and more than 400 people die.
This odorless, tasteless, colorless gas is a byproduct of incomplete combustion, which means it’s produced any time a material is combusted or used for fuel. If any appliances in your home run on natural gas, oil, propane, kerosene, wood, gasoline or charcoal, you’re susceptible to CO exposure. Learn what happens when you breathe carbon monoxide fumes and how to lower your risk of poisoning this winter.
Commonly called the “silent killer,” carbon monoxide is lethal because it prevents the body from using oxygen properly. CO molecules displace oxygen in the blood, depriving 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 immediate care, brain damage or death can occur.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can also happen slowly if the concentration is relatively low. The most frequent signs of CO exposure include:
Since these symptoms resemble the flu, numerous people won’t learn they have carbon monoxide poisoning until mild symptoms progress to organ damage. Watch out for symptoms that lessen when you leave the house, illustrating the source may be originating from inside.
While CO exposure is intimidating, it’s also entirely preventable. Here are the best ways to protect your family from carbon monoxide poisoning.
If you ever operate 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 make the most of your carbon monoxide detectors:
Several appliances, including furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces and clothes dryers, can leak carbon monoxide if the equipment is installed poorly or not running as it should. An annual maintenance visit is the only way to know for sure if an appliance is faulty before a leak develops.
A precision tune-up from Midway Services includes the following:
If your gas furnace, boiler or water heater has developed a CO leak, or you want to thwart leaks before they happen, Midway Services can help. Our HVAC maintenance and repair services promote a safe, comfortable home all year-round. Call your local Midway Services office for more info about carbon monoxide safety or to schedule heating services.
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