With cold weather coming, safety measures in home heating could lower your fuel bill and might even save your life.
The more completely fuel is burned, the more heat and the less carbon Monoxide it's apt to produce. A properly turned-up oil furnace may burn up to about 10 percent less fuel - and money.
But experts warn that fuel-burning heating devices which are unvented or are dirty and poorly adjusted ". . . can produce deadly quantities of carbon monoxide." Just one tragic example: a family of three killed by carbon monoxide (CO) gas from an unvented space heater left on overnight.
Heating equipment isn't the only potential troublemaker. Gas ovens can cook indoor air pollution hazards, too, under poor ventilation conditions. A study by Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory researchers showed that this could result in raised levels not only of carbon monoxide, but other pollutants as well.
Even fuel-burning equipment properly vented to the outside could malfunction unexpectly. So some experts feel that it such equipment or fuel burning heating system are in use, an adequate exchange between indoor and fresh outdoor air is prudent extra insurance.
In some homes studied the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory researchers found indoor carbon monoxide levels which would have flunked existing or proposed outdoor air quality standards.
Keep your home adequately ventilated with some fresh air circulating at all times. Use a fuel-burning space heater stove only if it is properly vented to the outside. "Old-fashioned or secondhand heaters and stoves may be cracked, improperly adjusted, or improperly vented . . . "
Have your heating system, fireplaces, flues, furnaces and all heating and fuel-burning equipment professionally inspected before the start of the heating season. Any necessary repairs should be made promptly by qualified service personnel. Use only the type of fuel for which your equipment is designed.
It's important to note that the very young, the pregnant, the elderly, and those with anemia, asthma, or heart, circulatory or respiratory problems are especially vulnerable to carbon monoxide's harmful effects. Risks from the colorless, tasteless, odorless gas may go up with concerntration in the air, length of exposure, heat, altitude, physical activity or a high blood alcohol level.
Know the warning signs of possible CO poisoning. They may include: headache; drowsiness; faintness; nausea and vomiting; increased respiratory rate; increased pulse rate; red or bluish red skin; dimness of vision; muscular incoordination; generalized weakness; mental confusion; unconsciousness; convulsion.
Take possible symptoms as a signals to immediately open windows and get plenty of fresh air. Or, if severity and circumstances warrant, get all members of the family out of the house as quickly as possible. Be sure the area is thoroughly ventilated before efforts are made to locate the trouble.
Information for the above article was obtained from the American Physical Fitness Research Institute, 824 Moraga Drive, West Los Angeles, Calif. 90049.