Because this seems to be more prevalent in the winter months than any other time, we strive to make sure that you have all the ammunition you need to defend yourselves. We are reposting a story from the small business site AllBusiness.com that addresses the issue.
With colder temperatures comes a silent threat from fuel-burning appliances — carbon monoxide.
“We get a lot of false alarms throughout the year, but this is our busiest time for actual elevated levels of carbon monoxide in people’s homes,” said Jacksonville Fire Department Capt. Bryan McGee, fire prevention and education officer.
Such calls typically start in mid-October when people begin using wood stoves, fireplaces, kerosene heaters or gas-powered furnaces — all of which produce carbon monoxide emissions in levels usually not harmful, McGee said.
But when appliances are used improperly or are not working right, the colorless, odorless toxic flammable gas becomes hazardous.
Such was the case Sunday, when a malfunctioning furnace caused a “dangerously high” level of carbon monoxide inside a South Jacksonville church.
No one inside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 1053 E. Vandalia Road became ill and South Jacksonville Fire Chief David Hickox said firefighters vented the building, shut off the furnace and advised church officials to call someone to fix the problem.
About 95 percent of Jacksonville’s calls turn out to be false alarms caused by faulty sensors or low batteries in carbon monoxide detectors or by old or damaged heat exchangers in furnaces, McGee said.
“In some homes, we have had levels that are extremely high and a few poisonings because of it,” he added.
There have been no carbon monoxide poisoning incidents so far this year.
In addition to having equipment to check the carbon monoxide level of a building, the Jacksonville Fire Department can check those inside for possible poisoning. With its portion of a public safety grant earlier this year, the fire department bought two finger-clamp monitors to measure the level of carbon monoxide in the blood.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, unusual fatigue, dizziness and confusion.
An estimated 170 people die each year and thousands of others end up in hospital emergency rooms because of carbon monoxide poisoning.
To avoid the risk, McGee suggests people have fuel-burning appliances and water heaters checked before winter by a qualified technician. Fireplaces should be checked regularly to ensure they are in proper working order and properly ventilated. Chimneys should be cleaned annually.
State law requires an approved carbon monoxide alarm be installed within 15 feet of a bedroom in most residences. An exception is those that have all-electric power — no gas heat or a gas water heater — and do not have fireplaces or attached garages.
McGee said it’s important to replace the batteries in the detectors regularly. Carbon monoxide detectors more than three years old probably need to have the sensor inside replaced, McGee said.
Intermittent beeping every 30 seconds to a minute can indicate a low battery or a bad sensor.
If the detector’s alarm sound is constant, “then it’s an obvious incident of carbon monoxide,” he said.
If that happens, get out of the house immediately and call for help from a safe location outdoors or from a neighbor’s house.
Please heed these warnings. If you want to be sure that you’re safe, let Casteel Heating and Cooling come take a look. We care.