Common Sources of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 400 people die every year from carbon Monoxide poisoning. Those deaths are avoidable.
All you need to do to protect your family from CO poisoning is install carbon monoxide detectors in your home.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless gas. The first sign that you have that CO is present in your home is that you will begin to feel unwell. If you are sleeping, you may not even notice that something is wrong. That’s why people call carbon monoxide the silent killer.
Carbon monoxide detectors will alert you to the presence of the gas. Knowing where carbon monoxide gas comes from will help you protect your family.
Main image: First Alert CO615 Carbon Monoxide Detector.
Common Causes of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide occurs whenever something burns. So, any kind of fuel-burning appliances will emit the gas.
Carbon monoxide poisoning happens when CO builds up in the home. That build-up of CO is usually caused by faulty appliances and a lack of ventilation.
The effect that carbon monoxide has on a person depends on the concentration of CO. It will also depend on how long a person is breathing in the gas.
When CO levels first reach approximately 70 parts per million (70ppm), most people won’t feel any ill effects. If the level remains at 70ppm for any length of time or increases, you will begin to feel tired and nauseous. You may also develop a headache.
As CO levels rise to 150 to 200ppm, you will begin to feel disoriented. If you stay in the room when CO levels are 150 to 200ppm, you may fall unconscious, and it can be fatal.
The most common sources of carbon monoxide in the home are:
- Gas space heaters
- Blocked chimneys
- Back-drafting of vents
- Leaking ventilation pipes
- Water heaters
- Clothes dryers
- Gas stoves
- Generators use indoors or too close to the home
- Gas Ovens
- Motor vehicles parked in attached garages
- Tobacco smoke
- Grills and barbecues
- Gasoline powered tools
- Gasoline powered lawn equipment
What Are the Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are often described as flu-like. They can begin as mild symptoms and then get worse as the carbon monoxide levels increase.
If you have been drinking alcohol or you are sleeping, you may not even notice the symptoms. Add to that the facts that you can’t smell CO that and it doesn’t cause any irritation, and you see why you need CO detectors.
The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are:
- Upset stomach
- Chest pain
What to Do if You Experience Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Symptoms
If you think you are experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, you need to get fresh air immediately. If you do nothing, you could lose consciousness and die.
Alert everyone in your home and get your family outside. If your own symptoms are severe, leave the building immediately as well.
If your symptoms are mild, open the windows and doors in your home and turn off all the appliances that burn fuel. Then, leave your home and go outside into the fresh air.
Report the incident to the fire department. You should also seek medical attention. It is important that you get medical attention if you have experienced CO poisoning. Don’t return to your home until the fire department has given you the all clear.
Don’t turn any fuel-burning appliances in your home on until you have had them checked by a qualified engineer.
How to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Image Source: Kidde Nighthawk Plug-in Carbon Monoxide Detector.
There are two important, ways to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. The first is to install carbon monoxide detectors. The second is to take steps to ensure that carbon monoxide does not accumulate inside your home:
- Install carbon monoxide detectors
- Have all fuel-burning appliances serviced regularly.
- Have your chimney cleaned once a year.
- Only buy gas appliances that are approved by a national testing agency. E.G. the Underwriters’ Laboratories (UL).
- Never use a gas stove for heating.
- If you use gas space heaters, make sure the room has ventilation
- Never burn charcoal indoors.
- Don’t use portable gas stoves indoors.
- Don’t run portable generators indoors or in your garage.
- Never leave an automobile running in the garage.
- Keep portable generators at least 20 feet from your home.
- Ensure that all gas appliances are vented properly.
Your first line of defense against carbon monoxide poisoning is installing CO Detectors. They will warn you if CO levels get dangerously high.
You’ll find more information about where you need CO alarms in our post: Where to Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors.
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