Carbon Monoxide Awareness: All You Need To Know To Stay Safe

Anything that burns a gas, including your furnace, creates small amounts of carbon monoxide. Furnaces are designed to remove this gas with their exhaust system. However, if there is some kind of problem with the furnace it might leak carbon monoxide, which then may harm you and your family. Carbon monoxide poisoning can be deadly. Here is what you need to know to stay safe from this gas. 

What is Carbon Monoxide? 

Carbon monoxide is a gas that is made through combustion, like the kind that happens in your fireplace, or gas-powered furnace. Unfortunately, this gas has no smell or taste, so you will not notice when you are breathing it in. If you breathe in carbon monoxide, its main toxic effect is replacing the oxygen in your bloodstream. That means your body isn’t getting as much oxygen as it should, and with enough exposure, not as much as it needs. 

How Do You Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning? 

You can prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in three main ways: 

  • Have carbon monoxide detectors: Everyone with a gas-burning appliance of any kind should have at least one carbon monoxide detector. Ensure yours is in good working order.   
  • Maintain your equipment: Properly maintained equipment is much less likely to leak carbon monoxide. Get your gas-burning furnace or other appliances maintained once per year. 
  • Carbon monoxide safety training: HVAC professionals and others may undergo safety training to deal with the potential threats from carbon monoxide.   

Looking to talk with an HVAC expert? Reach out to our team at Guelph ClimateCare today. 

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Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning 

Carbon monoxide has toxic effects. The symptoms of poisoning may include:   

  • Tension-type headaches: An ache on both sides of the head, potentially with pressure behind the eyes and tightened neck muscles. 
  • Dizziness 
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Stomach pain 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Difficulty breathing 

 At first, mild exposure to carbon monoxide may appear to be a flu or food poisoning, however, you will not develop a fever. Carbon monoxide poisoning may lead to delayed symptoms that are more serious. Essentially, as you are exposed to more of the gas, your symptoms get worse. Worse symptoms include:  

  • Difficulty thinking or concentrating 
  • Frequent emotional changes, easily depressed, irritated or irrational 
  • Vertigo, the feeling that things are spinning 
  • Loss of physical coordination 
  • Fast heart rate and breathlessness 
  • Chest pain, angina or heart attack 
  • Seizures 
  • Loss of consciousness 
  • Death 

If the leak is in your home and you leave home, your symptoms may get temporarily better. But, a while after you return, the symptoms will increase once again. 

What Do You Do About a Leak? 

If you suspect that there is a carbon monoxide leak in your home you should call your HVAC technician and the fire department or the gas company. If someone in your family is showing mild signs of a leak you should get them to a doctor. More severe symptoms may require an ambulance. 

To learn more about carbon monoxide hazards and home safety, contact the HVAC professionals at Guelph ClimateCare. 

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