Carbon monoxide poisoning results in the death of more than 400 Americans each year and sends another 100,000+ people to the emergency room. Carbon monoxide is always produced when burning wood, which is why homes with fireplaces and wood-burning stoves are at the highest risk. Burning natural gas and propane normally only produces carbon dioxide and water vapor. However, carbon monoxide can also be produced if the flames don’t receive enough oxygen for the natural gas or propane to combust completely. The fact that carbon monoxide poisoning is such a risk is why it’s important that you understand the signs of it and also know what steps to take to help keep your family safe.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Exposure and Poisoning

Oxygen needs to continually circulate through your bloodstream for you to stay alive. When you’re exposed to carbon monoxide, it starts to take the place of the oxygen in your blood. When this happens, you can quickly start to experience tissue damage and end up dying if you don’t soon get outside in fresh air and then seek treatment.

Carbon monoxide poisoning has the biggest effect on your brain and heart. When only exposed to small amounts of carbon monoxide, you’ll often just feel like you’re suddenly coming down with the flu or a cold. In cases of more severe exposure, you will quickly get a strong headache or migraine along with feelings of dizziness, nausea and confusion. Shortness of breath, sudden drowsiness, blurred vision and loss of muscle control are also common. If you don’t get fresh air fairly quickly, you’ll typically end up losing consciousness and dying within a fairly short time. That’s why most cases of fatal carbon monoxide poisoning occur at night when people are asleep and thus not able to recognize the symptoms.

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can set in slowly over a period of four to eight hours or more. If exposed to a much higher concentration, you may notice the tell-tale symptoms in just a few minutes and potentially lose consciousness in 15 minutes or less. That’s why you need to take immediate action and get yourself, your family and your pets outside if you suddenly start to experience any of the symptoms we just mentioned.

Where Should Carbon Monoxide Detectors Be Located?

The reason carbon monoxide is so dangerous is that it is completely colorless and odorless, which means there is no way for you to detect it. That’s why the building codes in most places require that all new homes have carbon monoxide detectors installed in certain locations. In general, you want to make sure that you have at least one detector on every floor of your home as well as a detector located around 15 feet away from any potential source of carbon monoxide. That means a gas furnace, gas water heater, fireplace, etc.

The fact that most cases of fatal carbon monoxide poisoning occur at night is why you also need a detector near each bedroom door. If possible, you want to have one detector within 10 feet of the door to every bedroom in your house. That means you could just install one detector in the hallway if you have multiple bedrooms next to each other. However, you’re generally better off having one detector in every bedroom just to be safe.

Why Installing Hard-Wired Carbon Monoxide Detectors Is the Best Choice

Having an electrician install hard-wired carbon monoxide detectors is the best option for keeping your family safe. Battery-powered carbon monoxide detectors aren’t necessarily bad, but you need to remember to test them monthly. While hard-wired detectors should also be tested monthly, they are much safer and more fail-proof. The main reason is that they are all wired together in a chain. That means if one unit detects carbon monoxide and goes off, it will instantly cause all of the detectors in your house to go off. As such, you’ll immediately get woken up by the detectors, which isn’t always the case if a detector on the far side of your home goes off.

Another advantage is that hard-wired detectors have a battery backup that acts as a failsafe to ensure that they will still work if the power to your home is out. This makes them more fail-proof since there is almost zero chance that your power will be out and every detector in your home will fail to go off due to their batteries being dead.

Expert Heating and Air Conditioning Services

The fact that furnaces can produce carbon monoxide when not working properly is why it’s essential that you have your heating system professionally serviced every year. As the most-trusted HVAC service in the Mead, Longmont and Firestone areas, My Guy Heating and Air, LLC is the one to turn to for furnace maintenance or any of your other heating or air conditioning needs. Contact us today if you need to schedule indoor air quality services, AC maintenance, or more!

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