Although we still have time to enjoy the summer breezes though the open windows, it won’t be long before people in the northeast begin battening down the hatches preparing for fall and winter. The hidden danger when you heat your home with a boiler or furnace is the possibility of a carbon monoxide leak, which can lead to poisoning and possibly death. That’s one reason regular furnace maintenance is so important.
What is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide ( also known as CO) is created by the incomplete burning of fuels such as: coal, wood, kerosene, propane, oil and natural gas. Motors that are powered by internal combustion engines such as automobiles, lawn mowers and gas generators also produce the deadly gas.
It is often colorless and odorless making it especially dangerous, and often goes undetected.
It’s estimated that several thousand people visit hospital Emergency Rooms to be treated for Carbon Monoxide poisoning each year. Sadly, between 100-200 people die from the effects of Carbon Monoxide annually.
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Because of it’s odorless and colorless qualities most people don’t realize they’re being exposed to CO. Milder symptoms are often similar to the flu (minus the fever.) Common symptoms of mild poisoning include:
- Shortness of Breath
Higher levels of exposure and poisoning form CO will produce more severe symptoms such as:
- Mental Confusion
- Loss of Muscular Coordination
- Loss of Consciousness
- Eventual Death if not Reversed
How to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in the Home
- The most important prevention method is to install Carbon Monoxide detectors throughout your home. Be sure it runs on both electricity and battery backup (and test and change the batteries regularly)
- Be sure appliances are installed and operated according to manufacturers requirements
- Never run a combustion motor or other device that emits exhaust inside the home – even with the windows open carbon monoxide can be quickly trapped
- Never operate fuel-burning appliances in any room where people are sleeping
- Use non-electrical space heaters in well ventilated areas only
Carbon Monoxide poisoning illnesses and deaths can also be caused by a faulty boiler or furnace. Be sure to have your furnace cleaned, inspected and serviced before each heating season. You should only have this service performed by a trained professional.