It’s about to get cold. That means it is time to get your furnace checked. That is essential to preventing deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.
People should be making sure their furnaces are cleaned and maintained. Make sure furnace filters and combustion chambers are clean, and make sure the vent pipes are free of debris in open areas. When we get snow, it could be a problem with the exhaust and taking air in.
The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can resemble the symptoms of the flu. This illustrates the importance of having a carbon monoxide detector in the home. It can overtake you quickly, leaving you unconscious or even dead. Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, making it the “invisible killer.” Carbon monoxide kills more than 150 people each year.
Last winter, there was a story about a Chicago woman who was experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning in her apartment. There was a leak, and the company cut off her gas, leaving her without heat as she went into winter. The city was going after her landlord for the carbon monoxide and lack of carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms in the unit. (See our blog here about carbon monoxide laws in Illinois)
Another issue we may face as the air cools down and we enter another Chicago winter is the issue of operating portable generators in the home for heat. Portable generators should never be operated inside the home.
Many regulations are now requiring that carbon monoxide detectors be installed in the area where a furnace is operating. But the alarms may not be loud enough to wake someone from sleeping. Before death, the person will first lose consciousness. This is why the law in Illinois requires a CO detector within 15 feet of each sleeping area.
A family dog may be of help in a situation where the alarm cannot be heard, because they have such powerful hearing. If you feel bad, and your dog is unusually excited, you may want to call 911.
When carbon monoxide enters the body, it deprives the body of oxygen, causing cell death and damage to the body’s organs. Carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in Chicago, according to the city itself. It can easily be prevented by installing CO detectors in the home and making sure furnaces and other fuel-burning appliances are properly installed and maintained.