Winter temperatures lead homeowners to seal up their homes and crank up the thermostat, increasing the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) exposure. About 50,000 people in the U.S. visit the emergency room annually due to accidental CO poisoning, and more than 400 people die.
This odorless, tasteless, colorless gas is a result of incomplete combustion, which means it’s released each time a material burns. If the 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 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. Large volumes 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 slowly if the concentration is comparatively low. The most common signs of CO exposure include:
Since these symptoms imitate the flu, numerous people won’t discover they have carbon monoxide poisoning until mild symptoms progress to organ damage. Watch out for symptoms that lessen when you leave home, suggesting the source could be somewhere inside.
While CO exposure is frightening, it’s also entirely preventable. Here are the best ways to protect your family from carbon monoxide exposure.
If you ever operate combustion appliances in or around your home, you should install carbon monoxide detectors to notify you of CO leaks. 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:
Multiple appliances, including furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces and clothes dryers, can leak carbon monoxide if the appliance 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 Calverley Service Experts includes the following:
If your gas furnace, boiler or water heater has developed a CO leak, or you want to prevent leaks before they happen, Calverley Service Experts can help. Our HVAC maintenance and repair services promote a safe, comfortable home all year-round. Call your local Calverley Service Experts office for more details about carbon monoxide safety or to schedule heating services.
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