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The Reliable

Carbon Monoxide the “Silent Killer”

by Dan Jape of Reliable Heating & Air

People lock their doors and set their burglar alarms to try and keep their families safe from harm, but often times forgot to look inside their homes at what could be a potential risk to everyone’s safety and welfare. The “Silent Killer” can be found in every home and one need take precaution not to accidentally fall harm to the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America, carbon monoxide.

Carbon monoxide or CO as it is commonly called is an odorless, tasteless gas formed by burning material that contains carbon. Common household appliances produce carbon monoxide and unless properly ventilated, can build up to levels that can be harmful. Some of the appliances that produce CO in a home are gas furnaces, water heaters, charcoal grills and gas stoves. The terrible thing about carbon monoxide poisoning is that the symptoms are usually confused with the flu. Headaches, fatigue, dizziness and nausea are often the first symptoms of CO poisoning and many times doctors and emergency room personnel look to treat the immediate symptoms instead of looking at the underlying causes. Carbon Monoxide builds up in the body over time and eventually can cause severe harm and death.

The most important thing you can do to protect your family is make sure all of your home appliances are in good working order and your chimney and fireplace is regularly inspected for proper operation. Have regular service on all gas appliances. Gas furnaces rust out from routine usage causing a huge potential for problems if not checked on a regular basis.  Never start your car in the garage to warm it in the winter. Make sure the flue on your furnace and water heater is in good shape and has a proper draft. Make sure you have good exhaust and ventilation if you have a gas cook top or stove. Never use an unvented space heater in a tight room or a bedroom and avoid using at all if possible. Reliable Heating & Air has technicians that can visit your home and check all gas appliances for proper combustion and operation assuring you your home is safe from any potential problems.

Most people are aware they need smoke detectors that are in good working order and have good fresh batteries. What most people do not know is that for just a few dollars more, they can purchase a combination smoke detector/carbon monoxide detector that will let you know if the levels of CO are too high or if there is a fire in your home. These detectors should be required in every home and at every level of multi level homes. You should change the batteries on an annual basis like a holiday or your birthday and make sure they are in good shape.

I was visiting a family a few weeks ago to give a bid on a new heating and cooling system, and when I went in their attic to look at their unit, I was overcome with fumes and my eyes burned. They had a new roof installed a few months before and the roofer had knocked the flue to the water heater loose when replacing the flashing and it was venting into the attic of their home. The entire family had been feeling sick and flue like and they did not have a detector. Had they not been taking estimates for a new HVAC system, dire consequences could have resulted from the eventual build up of CO in everyone in the home.

A carbon monoxide detector is a wise investment for all looking to prevent an accident or possible harm. It is just important and as needed as a smoke alarm.  Many people confuse the symptoms of carbon monoxide with the flue. If you even suspect an accidental exposure to CO, visit your doctor or health center and tell the professional the reason for your visit. Many times even the hospital/heath center is confused by carbon monoxide exposure.