Mitigate the Risk of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Before Winter Hits



According to the Centers for Disease Control, carbon monoxide is “an odorless gas that can kill you.” Many people make the mistaken assumption that you can only get carbon monoxide poisoning from your vehicle or wall unit furnace. This is not true. Whenever you burn fuel, there is risk for carbon monoxide, and you should mitigate that risk prior to the winter months.

Carbon Monoxide Is Produced By…

Carbon monoxide is produced by automobiles, fireplaces, furnaces, gas ranges, grills, lanterns, small engines, and stoves among other things. Anything that burns fuel has the potential to release carbon monoxide in its fumes. Because carbon monoxide has no distinctive odor, people and their pets are helpless to realize that they are inhaling the poisonous gas, which is why it kills so many each year when the heat is turned up to combat colder weather.

The danger is more prevalent for those with compromised immunity. Infants and the elderly can succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning much quicker than stronger adults do. No matter the age, those suffering from anemia, compromised respiratory systems, or heart disease are also more susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning than a healthy person. The CDC reports that 20,000 people each year are rushed to the ER for carbon monoxide poisoning; 4,000 are admitted and over 400 people die.

Symptoms of Danger

Because it’s odorless, your only sign that you and your family may be in trouble are the physical symptoms of carbon monoxide illness. If, after you’ve turned on the heater for the first time in the fall or winter, anyone in your household becomes confused or dizzy, complains of chest pain or difficulty breathing, gets a headache, becomes nauseous or weak, or starts to vomit, turn off your furnace, open your windows, and get him or her to the hospital immediately.

Prevention Is the Best Medicine

Any doctor will tell you that prevention is the best medicine, and heating professionals agree in the case of carbon monoxide poisoning. According to Ace Heating, regular maintenance on your unit, whatever type, not only prepares it for its winter use, but also extends its life and protects the air it’s pushing into your home. A scheduled check up each fall before the weather cools ensures that your unit is not leaking any gas fumes that might circulate carbon monoxide through the indoor environment.

Other tips to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning include installing CO detectors throughout the residence. These work like your fire alarms, and if they sense carbon monoxide, they will emit a warning sound to indicate that you and your family should evacuate and call for help. Do not use portable heaters, cookers, or any outdoor appliances inside. Only use gas appliances certified by professionals for indoor use. Make certain you have your gas fireplace serviced and chimney swept annually as well.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a real danger that can be avoided, which is why the over 400 people who die from it annually is so tragic. A simple maintenance plan for your furnace, fireplace, and common sense can prevent this dangerous gas from infiltrating your indoor air. Protect your family each winter by ensuring that you prevent the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.

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