Each year, hundreds of Americans die from unintended carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, often caused by improper use of appliances in their homes.
Although carbon monoxide and its dangers are a year-round concern, you should be aware of the seasonal safety issue that arrives each wintertime.
Where Carbon Monoxide Comes From
Called the “invisible killer,” carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless and totally silent toxic gas produced by fuel-burning equipment and appliances, including furnaces, ovens, barbecue grills, and cars. When the fuels are burned incompletely, that’s when high levels of CO can be produced.
Heating is the number one cause of carbon monoxide poisoning in the home.
Other common causes include running the car inside an attached garage unit, malfunctioning or poorly ventilated gas appliances, and improperly used space heaters.
What Carbon Monoxide Does to You
Exposure to carbon monoxide at a high level can be deadly.
Elevated levels of CO in the home can cause flu-like symptoms, such as chest pains, headache, fatigue, nausea, and shortness of breath.
Prolonged exposure can also cause disorientation, loss of consciousness and respiratory failure. Breathing in too much of the toxic gas can be a permanent hazard to you and your loved ones.
How to Prevent Dangers
The best way to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is to have a qualified service technician check your appliances and venting systems annually. In addition to regularly checking your appliance exhaust vents for blockage, you can also consider installing a UL-listed carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home.
In the heating season, a well-tuned, structurally sound system will operate efficiently and keep your home warm all winter long. Overlooked heating systems pose a potentially fatal threat to you and your family.
In the event of a suspected carbon monoxide incident, get everyone out of the house and call 911 or your local fire department right away. Ignoring an alarm could be a fatal mistake.
Propane is a safe fuel – when handled properly. That’s why propane safety, such as detector quality, ‘trusting your nose,’ and periodic technician checks of your propane equipment and carbon monoxide levels are so important.
Remember to contact Georgia Gas if you have any concerns or questions regarding winter propane safety.