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As the temperature gets colder, people start using space heaters to get the extra warmth against the cold season. What they know nothing about is the presence of a potential “silent killer” – carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a potential health hazard that you need to be on the lookout.
As the year nearly ends, more households are demanding more power from furnaces and heaters to keep up with the cold weather. However, many people don’t know that the cold weather during the winter season increases the likelihood of carbon monoxide poisoning. Unfortunately, that is not a good tiding, right? That being said, you should take a good look at your appliances and take preventive measures.
According to Dr. Donna Seger, M.D. Professor of Clinical Medicine and medical director of the Tennessee Poison Center at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can trick you to that of the flu. Because carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas, one may not be aware of its presence even inside the home. Some symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache and nausea, which makes people believe they have the flu or a viral illness. Prolonged exposure can lead to vomiting, chest pain, serious medical problems or, worse, death.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless and colorless gas that is produced from gasoline, natural gas, propane, and other fuels. While an automobile exhaust is one of the leading sources of CO, carbon monoxide can be found in almost all appliances that we constantly use at home. This includes charcoal grills, lanterns, gas engines, gas ranges, stoves, and most especially furnaces. That is why, during the winter season and cold days, carbon monoxide is especially common as the use of gas, oils, and coal-burning appliances increases.
Carbon monoxide is hazardous to your health because when it enters your body, it bonds with hemoglobin, reducing the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream and eventually causing asphyxiation.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 100 people die every year in the United States due to carbon monoxide poisoning from fuel-burning and engine-powered appliances used inside the home and other enclosed areas.
During our home inspection in Chicago, IL we always see to it that chimneys, furnaces, and other appliances are carefully examined. Our home inspectors look for water in chimneys, moisture in windows, rust in vents, the unfamiliar odor coming from vents and burning smell, malfunctioning furnace, and even the decrease of hot water supply.
Fortunately, there are some preventive measures you can do as a homeowner that our Chicago, IL home inspection team highly recommends:
- Make sure to have a qualified technician regularly check and service your heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil, wood, or coal-burning appliances.
- Use carbon monoxide detectors that meet the requirements of Underwriters Laboratories (UL) standard 2034.
- Improper installation of appliances can affect its functionality and high impact the production and accumulation of CO. Make sure that all appliances are installed correctly, and the manufacturer’s instructions are strictly followed.
- Do not attempt to fix any issue by yourself.
- Do not use fuel-burning and engine-powered devices used inside the home and other enclosed areas. The burning of charcoal inside the home must also be avoided.
- If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning and experiences flu-like symptoms, seek medical help immediately.
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