One of the scariest things about carbon monoxide also called the silent killer, is that so many modern appliances produce it. Central heating systems, gas cookers, wood stoves, boilers and water heaters can all produce this deadly gas. The risk of carbon monoxide is one of the main reasons why homeowners are urged to maintain their chimneys and to get them inspected each year.
Carbon Monoxide Symptoms
Anyone can be exposed to carbon monoxide at low levels for an extended period and start to develop symptoms. These usually include confusion, dizziness, nausea, trouble breathing and headaches. Some people ignore these signs because they think they are getting the flu.
High levels of carbon monoxide can actually kill within minutes. There have been frequent reports of people dying overnight due to excessive carbon monoxide exposure during as they slept. Those who survive inhalation of this gas can face long-term health issues for years. It can increase the risk of heart disease and respiratory conditions.
Understanding the Risk
While high levels can prove lethal to anyone, healthy individuals fare better with long term exposure than those who are anemic or who have existing heart conditions. Medical professionals also state that children and the elderly face a higher risk from inhaling the gas. It can also be detrimental to the health of an unborn child. Some of the ways that people unknowingly increase their exposure to carbon monoxide are:
- Using the fireplace with a clogged chimney, or failing to deal with smoke entering the home from the chimney
- Using generators indoors or in tents
- Running your car with the garage door closed
- Failing to vent gas appliances properly
- Failing to maintain heating equipment
- Using gas-powered tools in a poorly ventilated space
- Using charcoal to cook indoors or in a space with inadequate ventilation
Carbon Monoxide Prevention
Reducing your family’s risk of carbon monoxide exposure is simple. Have your chimney checked yearly for obstructions or damage to the liner. Liner damage can cause the gas to seep through the masonry and into the home, so you nay inhale it for a long period without realizing it. Make sure that all gas appliances are properly vented, and do not use gas-powered tools or a generator too close to the home, especially near a window.
If your chimney maintenance is not up to date, schedule an inspection now so you can know for sure that it is in good shape for the next winter season. Call us at 610-626-2439 for an appointment for a consultation, chimney cleaning, chimney inspection, or chimney repair.