Every winter as families tries to stay warm, safe, and comfortable indoors there is a silent threat that emerges to threaten that safety and comfort: carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless toxic gas that can be given off by home appliances such as furnaces, gas ranges, and water heaters. Exposure to certain levels of carbon monoxide is extremely harmful, leading to illness or death. The CDC estimates about 430 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning, with an even larger 50,000 people requiring a visit to the emergency room due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
While the threat is there year-round, the increased use of heating appliances that are the primary producers of carbon monoxide during the winter, combined with increased time spent indoors, make winter the most common time of year for death or illness due to carbon monoxide poisoning to occur.
While almost impossible to detect with the naked eye, there are fortunately several very simple actions homeowners can take to protect themselves, their families, and their home from carbon monoxide poisoning. As we head closer to the coldest months of the season, make sure these precautions are taken.
Seasonal furnace maintenance
Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of the combustion process of gas burning. With a better part of home furnaces being gas-burning furnaces, most homes are in a position to be at potential risk. During the burning process, carbon monoxide is usually contained and properly vented. But, all it takes is a crack or leak in your furnace’s flue or heat exchanger and the deadly gas can quickly make its way into your home.
Because it is so hard to detect these sorts of small irregularities with your furnace, regular seasonal maintenance of your furnace is one of the most effective ways to protect against carbon monoxide. A trained HVAC technician will be able to find these kinds of dangerous leaks if they are present and help you take immediate action to repair or replace the problem. Even if your furnace is in good shape, regular maintenance can help make sure it stays that way through proactive repairs and care.
Install carbon monoxide detectors
Just like every home should have smoke detectors to help alert you of the presence of fire, every home should also be equipped with carbon monoxide detectors to help alert you of the presence of this deadly, invisible, tasteless, and odorless gas.
These easy-to-install monitors will alert you and your family of excessive carbon monoxide levels that could prove deadly with prolonged exposure. Thanks to these detectors, you and your family can get out of the house and to safety fast, just like you would with a smoke detector. Because carbon monoxide rises with warm air, it is important to have a carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, especially near bedrooms.
Know the signs
The protection of maintenance and detectors are a great way to give you peace of mind, but you shouldn’t rely on them alone. Knowing the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure and poisoning so you can get to safety and care before it is too late.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is particularly dangerous because at first glance it may seem like just symptoms of the flu. This includes headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, sleepiness, and confusion. If you become exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide you can begin to experience confusion, loss of muscle coordination, and even lose consciousness. This can all of course lead to death. If you or someone in your home begins to experience any of these symptoms, call 911 and get out of your home right away.
Use generators wisely
During the winter, especially here in Indiana, we encounter the possibility of severe snow and ice storms causing homes to lose power and even potentially keeping them from leaving their homes. Because of this, many homeowners make sure they are equipped and ready with a backup generator to help keep their power running in the event of a storm. This is a great way to stay prepared during an often brutal season, but must be done so wisely.
If you are ever put into a position where you use a gas-powered generator during the winter, never run it indoors, whether that is in your basement, garage, or anywhere else inside. This is because the emissions of this kind of generator will no doubt produce large amounts of the deadly gas, so running it indoors puts anyone in remote proximity at risk of inhaling large amounts. For safety purposes, always run generators outdoors and away from your home.
Let Breedlove Dobbs help your Indianapolis home prepare for winter and protect you from carbon monoxide poisoning. Our trained technicians can conduct seasonal maintenance on your furnace to make sure it is running properly and free of any potentially dangerous gas leaks. We also carry and install carbon monoxide detectors to provide even more carbon monoxide poisoning protection.
Call 317.888.9111 today or schedule your service appointment online today.