Carbon monoxide (CO) is called the “Invisible Killer” because it’s a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas that can cause sudden illness and death. Each year, more than 150 people perish from accidential, non-fire related carbon monoxide poisoning, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and thousands more end up seeking medical assistance at hospital emergency rooms. Winter is the most dangerous time of year for CO poisoning, with heavy use of furnaces and other fuel-burning appliances that can emit the deadly gas. We at American Comfort’s One Hour Heating & AC encourage you to follow these important safety tips to protect you and your family – including pets – from carbon monixide poisoning:
- Install battery operated CO alarms – these inexpensive lifesavers should be installed on each level of your home, outside bedrooms. But unlike smoke detectors, they should be placed low, since CO gas is heavier than air. Make sure they at least have a battery back-up, and be sure to change the batteries twice a year.
- Have home heating systems inspected and serviced– Annual Tune-ups and inspections are imperative for furnaces, boilers, water heaters and any other equipment that burns gas or oil. Don’t forget chimneys and vents. Make sure they are cleaned and inspected as well.
- Open fireplace damper – if you have a wood burning stove or fireplace, make sure the damper is open and it’s properly ventilated so smoke will be drawn up the chimney. Make sure to keep the damper open until ashes are cool after the fire dies down.
- Keep grills and portable generators outside – never, ever use portable generators inside your home – garage and basement included – even if windows or doors are open. Same goes for charcoal or gas fueled grills.
- Never use gas ranges or ovens for heating – they’re for cooking, not to help heat your home.
- Don’t keep a running car in the garage – even for short periods of time. As soon as you start a car, pull out of your garage. And when you return to the garage, turn the car off immediately so fumes don’t accumulate.
If your carbon monoxide detector sounds off, turn off any fuel-burning appliances immediately, open doors and windows, and leave your house. Seek emergency medical assistance if anyone in your family experiences symptoms listed below, and call a qualified HVAC company to diagnose and fix the problem.
Because carbon monoxide is oderless, colorless and otherwide undetectable to our senses, people may not be aware when they are being exposed. Initial symptoms of low to moderate CO poisoning are similar to the flu, without the fever. They include:
- Shortness of breath
Higher levels of poisoning results in symptoms that get progressively, including:
- Mental confusion
- Loss of muscular coordination
- Loss of consciousness
- Ultimately death
If you have any questions related to carbon monoxide poisoning and detection, would like assistance with installation of detectors, or need your heating system inspected and serviced, don’t hesitate to call our team at American Comfort’s One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning, Elk Grove Village IL. We are the top rated residential HVAC company in the Chicago region, offering convenient HVAC service appointments seven days a week, and emergency repair service 24/7, every day of the year. Call 847 296-3444. For commercial HVAC service, visit our colleagues at American Comfort Heating and AC.