Winter’s Coming, So It’s Time To Get Your Furnace Checked

The dawn of winter is approaching. As you may get excited for cooler air and other activities, you might also want to consider getting your furnace checked for good reason: to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Thirty-four people were killed in Michigan due to carbon monoxide poisoning in 2013, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. And the leading causes of those deaths were faulty furnaces or water heaters, followed by generators. While 34 died from exposure, 823 were unintentionally poisoned.

Residents in Michigan should be making sure their furnaces are cleaned and maintained as winter approaches. Ascertain that furnace filters and combustion chambers are clean. A dirty air filter clogs the airflow. Also, it is important to check that the vent pipes are free of debris in open areas. The snow could also cause problems with the exhaust and taking air in.

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can resemble the flu. It can include headache, nausea, confusion, loss of consciousness, and even death. Before death, people will succumb to a coma.

Many regulations are now requiring carbon monoxide detectors near where the furnaces are. But if the carbon monoxide detector is not loud enough to be heard, then it doesn’t do much good. This is why it is good to have carbon monoxide detectors in each sleeping area.

Another important issue to consider as winter approaches is of portable generators. When the power goes out, do not operate a portable generator indoors. Last winter, we did a story where a family of six people in Michigan died. Their solution to a power outage was to go to the hardware store, buy a generator, and set it up in their basement. Never operate a portable generator indoors.

Carbon monoxide deprives the body of oxygen, causing cell death and organ damage. Brain damage can be an outcome of carbon monoxide poisoning, and can worsen in the days following the poisoning. This kind of tragedy can be prevented with working carbon monoxide detectors and maintaining furnaces and hot water heaters properly.


Gordon Johnson

Attorney Gordon Johnson is one of the nations leading brain injury advocates. He is Past-Chair of the TBILG, a national group of more than 150 brain injury advocates. He has spoken at numerous brain injury seminars and is the author of some of the most read brain injury web pages on the internet.

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