People often tend to take heaters for granted. While it's relaxing to come home from work and snuggle up to the heater and watch your favourite TV show or movie, there are a few potential hidden dangers that tend to go unnoticed by many people.
Carbon monoxide: the silent, imperceptible killer
By now, you've probably heard of carbon monoxide poisoning. What makes it particularly dangerous is its notoriously stealthy way in which it kills. It is colourless, tasteless, odourless, and initially non-irritating; therefore, it is extremely difficult for most people to detect it until it is too late. In fact, so pervasive is carbon monoxide poisoning that it is actually the most common form of fatal poisoning in a lot of countries. When symptoms do present themselves, however, the most frequent symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning — especially when eked out gradually — include dizziness, headaches, upset stomachs, vomiting, weakness, confusion, and chest pain. Having said that, an alarming amount of people can lose consciousness and die before anything can be done about it. Carbon monoxide poisoning has historically been associated with alleged haunted houses, as symptoms that include delirium and hallucinations have historically led some sufferers to claim to see ghosts.
What you can do about a faulty heater
Fortunately, you need not worry about carbon monoxide poisoning if you take steps to prevent such a tragedy from occurring. As previously mentioned, carbon monoxide is tasteless and odourless; therefore, an external device should be used to prevent unintended poisoning. So important, in fact, is the use of carbon monoxide detectors that the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission has declared: "carbon monoxide detectors are as important to home safety as smoke detectors are." They recommend that each home have, at the very least, one carbon monoxide detector. Furthermore, commercial buildings are encouraged to install at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level of the building.
While carbon monoxide detectors should be used in any home where their use would be warranted (which is most), there also is the prevention of carbon monoxide leaks in the first place. Heating repairs are an excellent way of ensuring the safety of you and your family (or, in the commercial sphere, the safety and well-being of your employees). Ideally, it is best to have your water heater, heating system, or any other oil, gas, or coal-burning devices serviced by a qualified technician at least once a year.