Each year, more than 400 Americans die from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide often goes undetected in homes due to its colorless, odorless nature, but the danger it presents is very real. Protect yourself and your family this winter by being aware of the risks, symptoms, and causes of carbon monoxide.
Here are some carbon monoxide facts you should know.
1. You’re Especially at Risk in the Winter
Carbon monoxide can leak out of poorly ventilated, fuel-burning heating systems and furnaces. It doesn’t matter what type of fuel you use—wood, coal, gasoline, natural gas, oil, and propane can all release it. So when you’re trying to keep your home warm during the colder months, the chances of carbon monoxide being released into the air rise significantly.
2. You Need a Carbon Monoxide Detector
Carbon monoxide cannot be detected easily without a carbon monoxide detector. Install one in your home where it will be sure to get your attention, like a bedroom or a heavy traffic area. Most detectors will beep about four times if they detect unsafe levels of carbon monoxide.
The detectors can be battery-operated or plugged into an outlet. Test them twice a year when you do your routine smoke detector test. If they start to chirp about every 30 seconds, the batteries must be changed.
3. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Affects Your Body
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include dizziness, nausea, headaches, chest pain, and confusion. If you begin to notice these symptoms in yourself or a family member, move your family and pets outside immediately.
Call 9-1-1 and don’t re-enter your home until it is deemed safe. Get to the hospital right away to treat the symptoms caused by carbon monoxide exposure. If you ignore the symptoms, they can be fatal.
4. You Can Look for Signs
Even though you can’t detect the gas itself, there are physical signs you can look for in your house.
In the room with your heating appliance, keep an eye out for heavy condensation on windows and cold surfaces, sooty or yellowing stains around your fuel-burning appliance, and fallen soot in fireplaces. The room might also smell like something is overheating, though this isn’t always the case.
You might also see excessive rust on flue pipes or notice that your combustion appliances give off orange or yellow flames when they should be blue.
5. You Can Prevent Carbon Monoxide Leaks
The most important preventative measure you can take is to have your fuel-burning appliances serviced by a professional annually. Inspect and clean your chimney each year to confirm it is free of leaks and soot buildup.
Updating your heating system can ensure that there are no cracks in your equipment that may lead to a carbon monoxide leak while helping reduce heating costs.
Remember These Carbon Monoxide Facts This Winter
Stay safe this winter by being aware of these carbon monoxide facts. Take proper precautions and you’ll be able to focus on the holidays and spending time with your family.
If you’re in the Norman, Oklahoma area, be sure to contact us for all your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning maintenance needs!