Carbon monoxide is a silent killer. On average, unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning kills 400+ Americans each year, a clear majority of deaths occurring in the cold winter months.As the weather cools down here in Charlotte, take some time to consider whether you’re prepared. Is your family at risk of carbon monoxide exposure? If your heating system (or even your kitchen appliances) run on gas, you need to know your risks. Here are three ways to protect yourself and your loved ones from CO2.
1. Service Your Heating System
The absolute best thing you can do to prevent CO2 poisoning is to have your heating system serviced before winter. In fact, over a third of all carbon monoxide-related deaths each year result from malfunctioning consumer products like furnaces, generators, and space heaters. When you have your heating system serviced, a technician will inspect your vents, ducts, fireplace, and heat exchange to ensure they’re all working properly. In most cases, ageing or improperly-maintained HVAC systems are those that cause exposure to CO2; regularly having your system inspected helps alleviate your risk.
2. Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Carbon monoxide detectors are easy to find and incredibly inexpensive. Ideally, you’ll have one in every room of the house that could be subject to CO2 exposure, but you need at least one per floor of your home. Some people make the mistake of installing their detectors up high like smoke alarms but remember, carbon monoxide is heavy. You want to mount your CO2 detectors low to the ground (since the substance sinks) and be sure not to block them with furniture or curtains. Check the batteries on your CO2 detectors at least once annually.
3. Know the Signs of CO2 Exposure
When in doubt regarding your carbon monoxide exposure, leave your home. Remember that CO2 has no smell or color and that symptoms are the only way to tell if you’ve been exposed. Know the signs of exposure…they can be very subtle, so it’s especially important to pay attention if you have more than one. Common symptoms include headache, weakness, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea, confusion, and in dire cases, loss of consciousness. Vulnerable individuals like children and the elderly often experience symptoms first. If you suspect your home’s CO2 levels are out of whack, leave the house immediately, call the fire department, and head outdoors.
Is it time for your annual heating checkup? The team at MTB Mechanical can help provide some peace of mind regarding carbon monoxide in your home. The best-prepared properties are those that are well-maintained, contain an up-to-date heating system, and outfitted with CO2 detectors.
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