carbon monoxide poisoning and gas heaters

Gas Heaters & the Dangers of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide: the basics

Carbon monoxide (CO) is odourless, colourless, and highly dangerous. That’s a bad combination. CO is a chemical emission produced by stoves, lanterns, furnaces, and heating systems to name only a few.

Are you at risk?

CO poisoning can affect all members of the population, not just the most vulnerable. But if you can neither smell it nor see it, how can you determine if you’re affected? CO inhalation produces a number of notable symptoms that are somewhat similar to the effects of having flu including:

  • Dull headache
  • Weakness
  • Nausea / Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty breathing

Critical CO inhalation can lead to a loss of consciousness and death. Obviously, the key is to have measures in place to ensure you are never at risk, to begin with.

If you suspect that you may be suffering from CO poisoning, shut off your gas appliance immediately, open windows and doors, and seek medical attention if required. Carbon monoxide can be detected in a blood sample for several days after exposure.

NB: Do not use your heater until it has been tested!

Ways to defend your family against CO poisoning

#1 – CO Detector

The most straightforward measure you can take to secure your home from CO poisoning is to install a battery-operated CO detector. You should ensure this device is always powered and operational. Think of a CO detector like a smoke alarm. It’s vital for safety – everyone should have one.

Carbon monoxide is heavier than air. A child or baby lying on the floor or seated at a low level in the room with a gas appliance operating may be affected by carbon monoxide from that appliance whilst it not be apparent to others in the room.

#2 – General Rules for your heating

A few do’s and don’ts:

  • don’t use portable, flameless chemical heaters indoors
  • do not use a gas-operated stove or oven to heat your home
  • do not use a generator inside any part of your home that is less than 20 feet from a window, door, or vent
  • place your baby in a cot up off the ground

A few things to look out for:

  • Any uncommon aberrations in the functioning of your system
  • Make sure your heating system has ample ventilation
  • Joints and pipes must be securely fitted
  • If you have a chimney, make sure the airway is clear and not blocked by debris
  • Make sure your heating equipment bears the nationally accepted seal of approval

#3 – Regular servicing of your heating unit

In many parts of the world, having an operational heating system is a pure necessity. But as we’ve mentioned, they present a risk. Old or poorly designed heating systems are a common liability when it comes to CO emissions. It’s therefore vitally important that you are confident in the installation and manufacture of your system. We recommend a yearly inspection by an experienced and reputable technician. You and your families’ safety is of the utmost importance.

Need help now?

If you are concerned about the safety of your gas heater, or it hasn’t been serviced for more than 1 year, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with Nortan Heating & Cooling services, so that we can arrange a priority service for your heater including a carbon monoxide test.

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