It is a silent killer that many people will face this winter. TV2’s Julie Selby reports that keeping warm this winter could cost you your life.
It’s that time of year to curl up in a blanket, drink hot cocoa and watch the snow fall. But while people are warm in their homes this winter, we all face a danger you wouldn’t expect — furnaces.
They keep us from freezing in Ohio’s long winter months but they pose multiple dangers if not kept up correctly.
The most dangerous threat furnaces pose is carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, invisible gas that can kill without many noticeable symptoms, which include headaches, nausea and dizziness. If a carbon monoxide leak happens while someone is asleep, that person may never wake up to realize there was a problem.
Lieutenant Jeff Coffee of the Kent Fire Department explains the rarity, but severity of carbon monoxide leaks.
“It’s not super common, it does occur,” Coffee said. “Another department I was on, we had an entire family die from carbon monoxide poisoning and that was in the late ’80s before carbon monoxide detectors were really big in homes.”
Leaks of this toxic gas don’t always happen at home. In April of 2013, dozens of people were sickened by a carbon monoxide leak in Stow at a bowling alley. About 400 people will die from poisoning each year while another 4,000 are hospitalized.
Crowding the furnace with junk in the basement can pose a potential fire hazard. As people should keep their furnace clear of items, they should also have it looked at.
It is common practice to have your furnace checked up on every year to make sure it is in good working order before it will be used in the winter. Even the smallest problem in a furnace can cause major issues.
Furnace technician and repairman, John Nihiser, explains how a furnace can leak carbon monoxide.
“Anytime that these coils leak, the gas that’s going out the floo… will come out here [the coils] and that’s what’s dangerous,” Nihiser said. “If you breathe that, it’ll kill you.”
Other than keeping the furnace from leaking the harmful gas, yearly check-ups can save the furnace from breaking in the dead of winter, improves energy efficiency and it can even save the warranty from expiring.
Getting your furnace checked each year can not only save you money, but your life.