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The Silent Threat: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Every year, carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning claims the lives of hundreds of people and sends thousands more to emergency rooms. This colorless, odorless gas is a silent killer that can seep into our homes without warning, making it crucial for everyone to understand the dangers it poses and take preventative measures. Carbon monoxide is produced when fossil fuels such as natural gas, wood, and gasoline burn incompletely. Common household appliances like gas stoves, furnaces, water heaters, and fireplaces are potential sources of CO if they are not maintained or vented properly. When inhaled, carbon monoxide binds to the hemoglobin in our blood, reducing its ability to carry oxygen. This can lead to severe health complications, including dizziness, nausea, confusion, unconsciousness, and even death.

One of the primary sources of CO in homes is malfunctioning or poorly maintained heating systems. It’s crucial to have your heating system inspected regularly by a qualified professional to ensure it’s operating safely. Furnaces and boilers should be serviced annually, with a thorough inspection that includes checking for leaks, blockages, and ventilation issues. A well-maintained heating system not only ensures efficient operation but also reduces the risk of carbon monoxide leaks.

Equally important is the installation of working carbon monoxide detectors in your home. These devices are your first line of defense against CO poisoning. Just like smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors are designed to sound an alarm when they detect unsafe levels of the gas in the air. Place detectors on each floor of your home, especially near bedrooms, and regularly test and replace their batteries as needed. Keep in mind that carbon monoxide detectors have a limited lifespan, typically around 5-7 years, so replace them accordingly.

New York State offers a FREE program to ensure carbon monoxide doesn’t pose a threat in your home. Find out if you are eligible by clicking here

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