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Avoiding Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Can Be Simple When Armed With The Right Information

Accidental carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning causes more than 450 deaths and 15,000 injuries each year, many while victims are asleep in their home. Because carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless, and tasteless, it can often go unnoticed in many homes.

Carbon monoxide poisoning
Areas of potential carbon monoxide poisoning

Carbon monoxide is the byproduct of any gas combustible. Water heaters, gas furnaces, kerosene stoves, a gas range, all produce carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide poisoning happens when there is incomplete combustion. Even exhaust from cars produce a significant amount of carbon monoxide so make sure it is isn’t running idle in an enclosed space.

Here are a few notes to keep in mind:

  • An annual furnace inspection is critical because it can push carbon monoxide through the air vents inside your house. Inspecting the entire exhaust vent system is something that we provide on a heating maintenance visit. We can also provide a combustion analysis of your heat exchanger¬†which will provide a benchmark for what is normal.
  • Visible signs such as flame impingement or discoloration around your water heater can often provide a sign. If something seems out of normal, have it inspected by one of our licensed technicians.
  • Local city building codes now require that we install new carbon monoxide alarms with new furnace installations. If your carbon monoxide does go off, get to fresh air as soon as possible. Fresh air will allow the oxygen in your body to dilute the poisoning from the carbon monoxide. Keep these alarms stocked with fresh batteries every spring and fall!
  • The common signs of CO poisoning, which include headache, fatigue, nausea, and dizziness. Knowing this can arm with you the critical information needed to make a quicker decision instead of staying inside your home.

If your carbon monoxide alarms sounds, make sure to get to fresh air as soon as possible and call 911. It is also wise to seek medical treatment as soon as possible.

The following information is from the CDC:

red blood cells and carbon monoxide
Red blood cells and the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning

How does Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Work?

Red blood cells pick up CO quicker than they pick up oxygen. If there is a lot of CO in the air, the body may replace oxygen in blood with CO. This blocks oxygen from getting into the body, which can damage tissues and result in death. CO can also combine with proteins in tissues, destroying the tissues and causing injury and death.

How do I vent my gas appliances properly?

  • All gas appliances must be vented so that CO will not build up in your home, cabin, or camper.
  • Never burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t vented.
  • Have your chimney checked or cleaned every year. Chimneys can be blocked by debris. This can cause CO to build up inside your home or cabin.
  • Never patch a vent pipe with tape, gum, or something else. This kind of patch can make CO build up in your home, cabin, or camper.
  • Horizontal vent pipes to fuel appliances should not be perfectly level. Indoor vent pipes should go up slightly as they go toward outdoors. This helps prevent CO or other gases from leaking if the joints or pipes aren’t fitted tightly.
Venting Diagram to avoid carbon monoxide
Venting Diagram To Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Content Sources:

Consumer Reports

Center For Disease Control

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