Important Things Everyone Needs to Know About Carbon Monoxide

January 6, 2015

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible, odorless gas that forms when fossil fuels, like charcoal, gasoline, heating oil, kerosene, natural gas and wood, burn. The average home contains numerous CO producers, such as kitchen ranges, water heaters, fireplaces, clothes dryers and furnaces. Other common sources of carbon monoxide include vehicles, BBQ grills, space heaters, portable generators and yard equipment. Every year, more than 20,000 Americans are treated for accidental CO poisoning in hospital emergency rooms, causing over 400 deaths. These alarming statistics demonstrate the importance of protecting your family against this serious health threat.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning is a Silent, Lethal Danger 

When you breathe air containing carbon monoxide, gas molecules replace oxygen in your bloodstream and produce a toxin that makes you feel sick. Inhaling small amounts over an extended period can cause symptoms that mimic ailments like the flu, viral infections and food poisoning. Exposure to high levels of CO can quickly lead to brain damage, unconsciousness and death. Those most susceptible to CO poisoning include infants, the elderly and individuals with anemia, heart conditions or breathing problems.

How to Lower the Risk of CO Poisoning

You can minimize the threat posed by CO by taking these steps:

  • Have your entire heating system inspected, cleaned and tuned-up once a year by a licensed HVAC specialist. This includes the fuel burner, heat exchanger and exhaust system.
  • Hire a qualified technician to perform an annual check to make sure your combustion appliances are functioning and venting properly.
  • Install one or more battery-operated CO detectors in your home. At a minimum, one should be placed near bedroom areas to protect your family while they're asleep. Be sure to change the battery once a year.
  • Boost air exchange. Adequate ventilation is vital to ensure that CO created during combustion doesn't build up to lethal levels.

To learn more ways to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in your home, contact Lozier Heating & Cooling today. We've served homeowners in the greater Des Moines area for more than 100 years.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater Des Moines, Iowa area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). Credit/Copyright Attribution: "Creations/Shutterstock"