ALERT! Carbon Monoxide Warning! CO Poisoning can even happen here in Charleston, SC.
Because South Carolina is undergoing some of the coldest weather of the season, the information in this blog could save your life. Am I being dramatic? Absolutely not!
On February 14, 2015, a mother and her 5 year old son were killed by CO poisoning. This happened in Orangeburg County… yes, right here in South Carolina. If the mother would have only known the dangers of CO poisoning, I am sure she would have purchased a CO detector. This is certainly a tragedy, especially since a CO detector costs between $20 and $60. Our prayers go out to the family who have suffered this loss of life.
So, what is carbon monoxide (CO)? CO is a gas that is odorless, tasteless and colorless. But how does it get in your home, you might ask? It is created when organic substances (ie, fuels) are not completely burned. If you have gas heaters, furnaces, fire places, or gas water heaters, you are susceptible to CO Poisoning.
The reason that CO is dangerous is because it interferes with our ability to take in oxygen. This creates a form of suffocation. This is true for humans and other living organisms that require oxygen to exist. We cannot smell, see or taste carbon monoxide. This makes CO poisoning a silent killer.
How can you prevent CO Poisoning? Here are a few tips…
• Proper maintenance of fuel burning equipment.
• Look for evidence of problems….
-Have your furnace checked by licensed heating contractor
-Look for streaking soot around any gas appliances
-Be sure there is an updraft in your chimney
-Look for excessive rust on flues, or chimneys
-Flames should be blue in your furnace or heater (orange or yellow flames indicate a potential problem)
– Brick on the top of the chimney that look damaged or discolored
– Rust on the outside of the flue pipe (looking from the outside of your home)
• Know the symptoms of CO poisoning
At low levels…
-breathlessness with moderate excercise
At higher levels…
-memory and coordination issues
If these signs are ignored, a loss of consciousness could occur which would leave the victim(s) unable to escape. In extreme situations, lethal amounts of CO can be produced within 10 minutes (ie, a car running in a closed garage).
These symptoms are very similar to the flu. So, how can you tell the difference?
-If you feel better when you leave your home.
-Everyone in the home gets sick at the same time
-Those who are in the home the most are the one’s most affected
-You notice these symptoms after lighting or using a gas furnace, gas stove or fireplace.
-You notice these symptoms after a car/truck/suv (or gas powered equipment) is started in an attached garage.
• Be sure you have proper ventilation fuel burning items in your home.
• Install, and test CO alarms in your home on a regular basis.
This blog is very brief. There is more information on the internet that can help you. The most important thing that you could do to protect you and your family is to purchase a CO detector for your home.
As always, we are here to help. If you haven’t had your furnace service in awhile, feel free to contact us to schedule your appointment.