Disclaimer :: Calverley Service Experts sponsored this post in conjunction with a national campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.
That Saturday started out great — with doughnuts for our five-month-old daughter. When the fire truck and ambulance arrived at our house, just hours later, our mood had changed. We did not plan on getting checked out for carbon monoxide poisoning. We could have better prepared.
If you’re like me, heating system and gas appliance maintenance isn’t high on your priorities, and you can’t tell a carbon monoxide detector apart from a smoke detector — or, as I call it, “cooking detector.” But on that Saturday morning, our two carbon monoxide detectors were suddenly my best friends.
According to WebMD, this invisible, odorless gas is emitted by any fuel-burning source (like a fireplace) or gas appliance (heater or even clothes dryer). Many symptoms — headache, weakness, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, confusion — might not be recognized and can often be explained away. I know mine were.
We took a stroll to the park to enjoy a doughnut, or three. And after some exertion, we came home late for the baby’s nap just as we were crashing from our sugar highs. My husband complained of a headache, and I was lightheaded and dizzy. Our baby seemed too fussy to nap. I was convinced that she was overtired, and that my husband and I were reaping the consequences of poor dietary choices.
Until those alarms went off.
After some frantic scrambling, we had the sense to grab the baby and get out into the fresh air to call 911. The operator referred us to the good people at the City of Fort Worth Fire Department, who asked if we had experienced any classic symptoms (“Actually, yes,” I answered, my voice shaking) and sent an emergency response team.
This is deadly serious business. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that carbon monoxide poisoning results in about 15,000 emergency room visits and causes almost 500 unintentional deaths per year. The CDC website has a great resource on prevention guidelines that include carbon monoxide detector installation, routine heating system service, and proper gas appliance maintenance.
We were among the more than half of surveyed homeowners who didn’t take these simple preventative steps before having our close call. That’s according to a survey conducted on behalf of Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, which found gaps in knowledge and preparedness when it comes to carbon monoxide detectors. Of homeowners surveyed, 41 percent never replace the detectors and aren’t sure how often they should be replaced.
In our case, they were embarrassingly out-of-date on that day. Once the paramedics verified our good health, a courteous firefighter informed us that both detectors were 10 years old. (Impossible, I thought, as we’d only been married — oh wait . . . five years, and my husband had bought the house five years before that . . . uh-oh.)
Alarmingly (no pun intended), 34 percent of homeowners don’t have, or aren’t even sure if they have a carbon monoxide detector! More than one-fifth of respondents replace the batteries only every few years — or never at all — and never test, or don’t know how to test them. More than half (54 percent) don’t know the best place in the home to install a carbon monoxide detector.
Service Experts makes the following recommendations on installation:
- One carbon monoxide detector placed outside of each separate sleeping area.
- None within 15 feet of heating or cooking appliances.
- None in humid areas such as bathrooms.
- None directly above or beside fuel-burning appliances (to avoid detecting small, but harmless, amounts of the gas emitted upon start-up.)
Needless to say, we read up a lot on the subject and replaced our carbon monoxide detectors. But, long before the alarms go off, there are steps you can take to make your home safer.
Remember the survey from earlier? It also found that 54 percent of homeowners don’t have their furnaces tuned annually. That statistic is shocking, since tune-ups are an easy way to identify and repair a carbon monoxide leak, or potential leak.
Fortunately for my husband and me, there are companies that specialize in these tune-ups. Service Experts is a prime example, being one of North America’s largest heating and air conditioning service companies. Their 90 locations serve approximately 2,000 homes and businesses per business day. Calverley Heating and Air Conditioning Service Experts have served the Fort Worth area for 39 years.
Service Experts are just that — experts that make our homes safer from aging furnaces, faulty heating units, and related hazards. The company is discounting winter tune-ups, and offering savings on equipment to replace your old HVAC system. An annual tune-up by their friendly technicians will ensure your furnace is working safely, keep your warranty valid, avoid unexpected breakdowns and save you money on utility bills. Score!