Carbon monoxide (CO) is a potentially lethal gas that’s produced during fossil fuel combustion in many devices commonly used in today’s homes, like a gas kitchen range, water heater, furnace, clothes dryer and backup generator.
Every year in the United States, accidental CO exposure is responsible for over 400 deaths and thousands of visits to hospital emergency rooms. Since the risk of CO exposure is greater when a home is closed up against cold winter air during heating season, it’s vital to learn some effective ways to protect your family from accidental poisoning.
Why Carbon Monoxide is Dangerous
Carbon monoxide is often referred to as the silent killer for good reason — you can’t see, taste or smell it when it infiltrates your home’s air supply. When it’s inhaled, CO displaces oxygen in the bloodstream and suffocates the body’s cells. Breathing in small quantities can cause flu-like symptoms like headaches, nausea, fatigue, shortness of breath, disorientation and general weakness. Long-term or sudden exposure to large amounts of carbon monoxide can cause vomiting, brain damage, unconsciousness and even death. While everyone is vulnerable to CO poisoning, the elderly, infants and those with respiratory or heart conditions will succumb more quickly.
How to Lower Your Risk of CO Poisoning
You can help keep everyone in the household safe from carbon monoxide poisoning by taking these steps:
Schedule an annual tune-up for your gas furnace with a licensed HVAC contractor, and make sure it includes an inspection of critical components like the heat exchanger, burner and vent system.
Make certain that all fuel-burning appliances in your home are working safely and venting properly by having them serviced yearly by an experienced technician.
Ensure your home has ample ventilation so combustion exhaust fumes aren’t trapped inside. Adequate air exchange is especially important during heating season, as carbon monoxide can quickly build up to dangerous levels in an enclosed space.
Install carbon monoxide detectors on each level of your home and near the sleeping areas. If you choose plug-in models, make sure they’re equipped with backup batteries. Test the functionality of each detector and replace the batteries twice a year.
For more advice about minimizing the risk of carbon monoxide exposure in your Northwest Arkansas home, contact us at Paschal Heat, Air & Geothermal.
Our goal is to help Springdale, Arkansas area residents learn about the various HVAC-related issues that impact their energy costs and home comfort.