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CARBON MONOXIDE: AN OVERVIEW

Known as the “silent killer,” carbon monoxide can enter your home from many different sources, and you will never know because you will not be able to smell or see it, even at deadly high levels. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commision (CPSC), approximately 170 people die, on average, every year in this country from carbon monoxide poisoning because they do not realize they have been breathing in carbon monoxide in their own homes. Because many home carbon monoxide leaks are due to unvented or malfunctioned heating sources and dryers, Young’s Chimney Service wants to tell you more about carbon monoxide as we provide the chimney and dryer vent services needed to protect you and your family from carbon monoxide poisoning.

What are the sources of carbon monoxide?

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), unvented gas space heaters, leaky chimneys and furnaces, clogged dryer vents, back drafting from furnaces, gas water heaters, wood stoves, and fireplaces, car exhaust from attached garages, and tobacco smoke are all sources of carbon monoxide leaking into your home.

What are the health effects of carbon monoxide?

In a published fact sheet from the EPA, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are listed to inform the public to be aware of these symptoms. At moderate levels, severe headaches, mental confusion, nausea, dizziness, and fainting are experienced. These levels can lead to death if you are exposed for a long period of time. At low levels, shortness of breath, mild nausea, and mild headaches will occur, and prolonged exposure can cause longer-term health effects. Because many of these symptoms are so much like flu symptoms, you may never consider carbon monoxide poisoning as the reason of your ailments.

What do I do if I believe I have carbon monoxide poisoning?

The EPA advises the following:

  • get fresh air immediately Open all doors and windows, turn off all combustion appliances, and leave the house.

  • go to the emergency room Tell the doctor you believe you have carbon monoxide poisoning. A blood test can be performed to diagnose if you have this poisoning soon after you have been exposed.

How can I avoid carbon monoxide poisoning?

Prevention is the key to keeping carbon monoxide from entering your home, according to the EPA. Maintenance of your dryer vent is important to ensure everything is working properly, with no opportunity for carbon monoxide leaks. Other things you can do to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning are do not idle your car in an enclosed garage, do not use a gas oven to heat your home, never use a charcoal grill in your home, do not sleep in a room with an unvented gas or kerosene space heater, do not use any gas-powered engines in enclosed spaces, and do not ignore any health symptoms, especially if other members of your household are also experiencing these symptoms.

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