Icy temperatures drive homeowners to seal up 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 annually as a result of accidental CO poisoning, and more than 400 people die.
This odorless, tasteless, colorless gas is a result of incomplete combustion, meaning it’s created 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 at risk of CO exposure. Learn what happens when you breathe 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 using oxygen properly. CO molecules displace oxygen in the blood, depriving the heart, brain, lungs and other vital organs of oxygen. Large amounts of CO can overwhelm your system in minutes, leading to loss of consciousness and suffocation. Without immediate care, brain damage or death can occur.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can also happen gradually if the concentration is relatively low. The most frequent signs of CO exposure include:
Because these symptoms imitate the flu, a lot of people don’t find out they have carbon monoxide poisoning until mild symptoms advance to organ damage. Watch out for symptoms that lessen when you aren’t home, indicating the source could be somewhere inside.
While CO exposure is frightening, it’s also entirely preventable. Here are the top ways to protect your family from carbon monoxide gas.
If you ever run combustion appliances in or close to your home, you should install carbon monoxide detectors to warn 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:
Several appliances, like 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 malfunctioning before a leak develops.
A precision tune-up from Levy & Son Service Experts 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, Levy & Son Service Experts can help. Our HVAC maintenance and repair services promote a safe, comfortable home all year-round. Contact your local Levy & Son Service Experts office for more information about carbon monoxide safety or to schedule heating services.
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