DALLAS — Fifty-nine percent of non-fire carbon monoxide related deaths occur between November and February. While 94 percent of homeowners know that the furnace can release deadly carbon monoxide gas, more than half (53.7 percent) don’t take simple steps that can prevent that from happening.

That is a major finding of a survey completed on behalf of Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning. The survey questioned 1,000 homeowners in the U.S. and Canada about their knowledge of carbon monoxide. While 50.1 percent of homeowners are very concerned or concerned about carbon monoxide, there are significant gaps in what they know about the subject. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has described carbon monoxide poisoning as a leading cause of unintentional poisoning deaths in the United States, causing approximately 15,000 emergency room visits and nearly 500 deaths annually. As many as 68,000 cases of non-fatal carbon monoxide exposures were reported to poison control centers between 2000 and 2009.

Survey highlights include:

• Two-thirds (66.5 percent) don’t know if they would recognize the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

• More than half of homeowners (53 percent) don’t know that the clothes dryer can be a source of carbon monoxide; 25.5 percent don’t know that the fireplace also can be a source.

• More than half (54 percent) don’t know the best place in the home to install a carbon monoxide detector.

• More than half (54 percent) also don’t get their furnace tuned annually, which can identify and repair a carbon monoxide leak or potential leak.

• Forty-one percent say they never replace their carbon monoxide detector, or they aren’t sure how often it is replaced.

• Over one-third of homeowners (34 percent) don’t have or aren’t sure if they have a carbon monoxide detector in their homes.

• About one-fifth (22.1 percent) never test or don’t know how to test the detectors to be sure they are working.

• About one-fifth (20.7 percent) replace the batteries every few years — or not at all.

“Carbon monoxide emissions don’t just happen with older furnaces,” said Dave Moody, director of field marketing for Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, which services approximately 2,000 homes daily in 95 markets. “Even a new furnace can emit the deadly gas if it wasn’t installed correctly.”

Moody stressed the importance of an annual furnace tune-up. “Our precision tune-up checks 29 different points on the furnace and the related ducts to ensure everything is operating efficiently, as well as cleaning and lubricating key parts, changing the filter, and adjusting the gas pressure and pilot. This saves money on utility bills, keeps the warranty valid, and avoids unexpected breakdowns.”

In addition to annual furnace tune-ups, a carbon monoxide detector should be part of every home monitoring system. Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed outside of each separate sleeping area, and not within 15 feet of heating or cooking appliances or in humid areas such as bathrooms. They should not be installed directly above or beside fuel-burning appliances, since those may emit a small amount of carbon monoxide on start-up.

For more information about Service Experts, visit www.serviceexperts.com.

Publication date: 11/18/2015

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