Imagine experiencing symptoms of confusion, fatigue, sluggishness, and dizziness for an entire week. You figure that you’ve just contracted a stubborn strain of the flu, but you could be wrong. Colorless, odorless, and tasteless, Carbon Monoxide is a poisonous gas produced when fuel is burned without enough air for complete combustion. Like a slow form of suffocation, Carbon Monoxide Poisoning can affect virtually everyone.
One way to protect yourself and your family is to learn to recognize the danger signals. They include fatigue, headache, nausea, dizziness, overall paleness, and irregular breathing. If you notice any of these symptoms, immediately open all of your windows and doors. Notify 911, and exit your home as soon as possible for fresh air.
You can have a qualified heating contractor conduct a thorough inspection of your home, including your appliances. If there are problem areas, the contractor will be able to repair them before they become potentially dangerous. A few things he may check for include, low oxygen levels, overly tight construction, properly vented appliances, partially blocked chimneys, and properly burning gas-fired appliances.
There are a few things that you can do to minimize the risk of carbon Monoxide poisoning to you and your family. Have your chimney and flue cleaned, and have your appliances and heating system checked by a specialist every year. Be sure that burner flames are blue and not orange on your stove, and never use a gas range for space heating. Never run an automobile or gasoline engine in an enclosed space; also, never use your charcoal grill indoors. Make sure that your home is properly insulated and weatherized to allow sufficient ventilation for appliances. Install federally approved carbon monoxide detectors (that meet the current requirements of Underwriter Laboratories Inc. [UL] or the International Approval Services[IAS] U.S. Requirement No. 6-96), in your home, but do not rely on them as a substitution for maintaining your appliances, furnaces, and chimneys.
Although symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning tend to be vague, they should not be easily dismissed, especially if everyone in the house is experiencing the same symptoms. The danger involved is real and life threatening. If you suspect that you are a victim of carbon monoxide poisoning call your doctor right away. With a simple blood test, you can be sure, and treatment can start immediately.
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