It is estimated that several hundred people still die every year in Canada and the U.S. from carbon monoxide poisoning. In the United Kingdom at least 50 people died during 2014 from carbon monoxide poisoning.
The majority of these deaths took place in homes. They could have been prevented if homeowners were more aware of the harmful effects of carbon monoxide poisoning, and had their appliances serviced by a home improvement contractor on a regular basis.
What are the Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Even very low levels of carbon monoxide poisoning can causes symptoms, and the most common ones are dizziness, headaches, tiredness and vomiting. Other symptoms may include stomach pain, confusion and shortness of breath.
High levels of carbon monoxide can cause very serious and immediate symptoms such as heart attacks, vertigo and loss of physical co-ordination.
Problems with concentration or mood swings can be an indication of long term exposure to carbon monoxide.
How is Carbon Monoxide produced
First of all it is important to understand how you can get exposed to carbon monoxide. All gas appliances are meant to completely burn all the fuel which is supplied to them. When this process works well carbon monoxide is not produced, but when appliances are not maintained or badly installed, the process can become less efficient and carbon monoxide gas (CO) is produced.
The gas can also be produced when chimneys and flues are blocked, or when vents are closed. Carbon monoxide gas is also not only produced by gas burning appliances, it is also produced by burning solid fuels and oil.
How to check your appliances for carbon monoxide
You cannot see carbon monoxide gas. It is also colorless and tasteless, and this is what makes it so dangerous. You should make sure your home has a carbon monoxide detector, and you should also check your appliances on a regular basis. All gas flames should be crisp and blue, and if you notice a change you should immediately stop using the appliance.
Here are some of the signs you should look out for:
- Boiler lights which frequently blow out
- Yellow staining or soot on appliances
- Orange and yellow cooker flames
It is a good idea to make a habit of inspecting your appliances regularly. It doesn’t take very long to check them but it can save you and your family’s life. Write down on your calendar the date you carried out the inspection, and set an alert on your phone to remind you to do another inspection after a couple of weeks. The problem can occur at anytime, so it is best to check on your appliances on a regular basis, not just once a year.
If, you notice any of the issues, you should contact a professional home contractor straight away. Make sure the service you contact is qualified to deal with gas or solid fuel appliances. A home repair contractor will be able to help you, and may even be bring in appliance repair specialist who has been certified to deal with any additional problems.
It is crucial to make sure the contractor who is going to be dealing with the problem is bonded, insured and have a good track record of doing this kind of work. At the end of day, the health & safety of your family is at stake, so you cannot be too careless.