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Sunday, October 18, 2015

PGFD - Stay Warm Safely - Have HVAC and Other Appliances Inspected

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930

mebrady@co.pg.md.us     @PGFDPIO

An annual check of your fossil fueled appliances by a certified technician are highly recommended by firefighters as we have our first spate of cold temperatures .  These appliances include your furnace, water heater, fireplace and cooking equipment.  Technicians will check that combustion of the fuel is occurring correctly and that the toxic fumes, carbon monoxide (CO), are being ventilated to the home exterior.  Many HVAC and plumbers provide special discounted pricing this time of year for these check-ups.

CO is a by-product of combustion and is normally removed from your home through ventilation pipes.  CO is called the "Silent Killer" because you can not see, smell or taste it.  It can overwhelm everyone in your house and will cause our youngest and oldest family members to become sick first.  CO is unhealthy and can kill you if the toxic gas builds up in your home by way of a faulty ventilation system or if the combustion process malfunctions.  CO can be generated by burning wood in your fireplace and wood burning stoves and fuel fed furnaces, water heater and cooking appliances.

CO is inhaled and will displace oxygen in your blood cells.  When this occurs your vital organs are receiving toxic gas instead of oxygen which will make you sick.  If the CO levels are high enough, the CO will kill you.

A Prince George's County law requires every home, apartment and hotel/motel that has a fireplace, natural gas service and/or an attached garage to have a working CO detector installed on every level of your home and in each room for commercial residences.  Firefighters highly recommend the use of 10-year CO detectors that will not require changing the battery twice a year.

There are two ways a homeowner can detect the presence of CO in their home:

1. Feeling sick inside their home with a sudden relief of flu symptoms once outdoors.  This could go on for days until the CO will make you sick enough to make you unconscious and possibly die.

2. A CO detector will detect the presence of CO; a toxic gas which is invisible and has no smell.  A CO detector will emit an audible warning before the levels of CO reach unhealthy levels.

I prefer Choice #2.

These images are of a HVAC technician visually inspecting the ventilation of a furnace and water heater.

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