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Preventing Carbon Monoxide Problems

What is carbon monoxide (CO) and why is it so dangerous? Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, deadly gas. Because you can’t see, taste or smell it, CO can kill you before you know it’s there. In America, carbon monoxide is the leading cause of poisoning deaths. Children, pregnant women and their unborn babies, senior citizens and people with coronary or respiratory problems are at greatest risk.

When carbon monoxide gets into your home’s atmosphere, it enters your blood stream and replaces the oxygen there, causing flu-like symptoms including fatigue, weakness, vomiting, trouble breathing, heart palpitations and even gastrointestinal problems. When people are exposed to high CO levels, they can pass out before they even have symptoms. Slow CO leaks can poison an environment so that people experience chronic symptoms which worsen over time.

How to Protect Yourself and Your Family

It is highly recommended that you have your gas furnace cleaned and inspected every year. Carbon Monoxide is a by-product of combustion and present whenever fuel is burned. Virtually every gas furnace produces some CO, which is carried away from your home through the furnace’s venting.

However, a furnace not running at peak performance can be deadly. While newer gas furnaces are equipped with features that shut it off when a problem is detected, older furnaces have no such devices. Over time, a furnace can develop small cracks in its combustion chamber. They may not be visible to the naked eye but it is through these cracks that CO leaks into your home.

Another important task is to change your filter regularly. A clean filter will help your furnace run more efficiently and help keep dust from being circulated throughout your home.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends installing at least one carbon monoxide detector per household, near the sleeping area. Additional detectors on every level of a home and in every bedroom provide extra protection. Be sure to choose an Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) listed detector that emits an audible alarm and has a digital display.

Here are some other helpful hints:

– Never leave a car running in a garage, even with the garage door open.
– Fumes can build up very quickly in the garage and living area of your home.
– Never use a gas range, oven or dryer for heating, even for a short time.
– Never burn charcoal in houses, garages, vehicles or tents.
– Never sleep in a room with an unvented gas or kerosene space heater.
– Never use any gasoline-powered engines (mowers, weed trimmers, chain saws, small engines or generators) in enclosed spaces.
– Lastly, never ignore CO poisoning symptoms, especially if more than one person is feeling ill.

 

Want to learn more about preventing carbon monoxide problems and other HVAC related issues? Return to our main page by clicking here.

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