5 Steps to Take to Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning From Your Heating System
Guest Blogger: Michelle West
Most of us go the extra mile to keep our homes safe for everyone.
We make sure to regularly check the condition of the roof for damages and leaks, keep the interiors in tip-top shape through routine cleaning, and call an air conditioning and heating service to perform repairs when necessary.
Most of us, however, tend to overlook the levels of carbon monoxide inside our homes, and that poses a risk to the health and well-being of everyone in the household.
What is carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide, or CO, is a colorless and odorless gas that can kill. The CDC states that more than 400 people die every year from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning in the U.S.
CO is present in fumes coming from burning wood, charcoal, lanterns, gas ranges and stoves, grills, furnaces, heaters, and portable generators. Vehicles with running engines also emit CO. Alternative sources of power and heat can produce CO which can build up in your home.
There is a higher risk of CO poisoning during the colder months due to the increased usage of heating systems. A faulty heat exchanger in the furnace can cause the buildup of CO in your home and other enclosed spaces.
What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?
Because of the nature of carbon monoxide, it can be really difficult to detect. Even small doses of CO can cause lasting adverse health effects. It is important to stay vigilant and be aware of the physical signs of carbon monoxide poisoning.
The symptoms of CO poisoning can be difficult to distinguish from other ailments, but these are the signs to look out for:
• Dizziness or blurred vision
• Nausea and vomiting
• Muscle weakness
• Shortness of breath and chest pain
• Loss of consciousness
If you or a loved one are experiencing most of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Try to move the affected individual/s outdoors and call emergency services.
How to avoid CO poisoning from your furnace and other heating systems
It is not impossible to keep your family safe from carbon monoxide poisoning from your heating system. These incidents can be prevented with the right information and preparation.
Prevention starts with proper information about CO poisoning
It is essential to educate the entire family about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and how to prevent it. Adults and children must be aware of the symptoms of CO poisoning and know what to do during such an emergency, such as calling 911 or an emergency medical service facility. Remember that awareness and prevention are vital in saving lives.
Ensure vents are always clear
Vents, most especially for the fireplace, furnace, and chimneys and those near the gas stove, should always be free of obstructions to ensure that dangerous fumes and gases do not build up in your home. Regular cleaning and inspection are important as dirt and debris can accumulate and block these vents, which can prevent air from coming in and toxic fumes from coming out.
Install carbon monoxide detectors
Carbon monoxide detectors work the same way as a smoke detector and will sound an alarm when CO is building up in your home. These commercially available and easy-to-install detectors should be placed on every floor or level of the house, including the basement.
Remember that you need to inspect and maintain these CO alarms by checking and changing the batteries.
Have a professional inspect your heating system regularly
Most incidents of carbon monoxide poisoning occur during the colder months since homes tend to be sealed tight, which makes it easier for toxic fumes to accumulate. It is essential to have a reliable heating service inspect your home’s heating system on a regular basis.
Certified HVAC professionals possess the expert knowledge, tools, and training to make sure your heating system is working properly and efficiently, and therefore does not present any risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
With the right information and preparation, carbon monoxide poisoning is entirely preventable. Homeowners should take this silent threat seriously. Following these simple steps helps avoid CO poisoning and safeguard the health and lives of everyone at home.
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