As the fall months are quickly approaching, people are going to be changing up a few habits in order to stay warm. While there are many benefits to the cooler months, there are a few precautions that need to be taken when adjusting to the weather. Carbon monoxide is one of those “silent killers” that poisons tens of thousands of Americans every year, killing hundreds. Understanding the cause of carbon monoxide poisoning, the signs, and how to prevent it can help keep you and the people in your household safe and healthy.
What is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
Carbon monoxide (CO) can be hard to detect as it is completely odorless, tasteless, and colorless, and it is produced by burning various types of fuels like gas, wood, propane, charcoal, and more. Appliances that utilize these forms of fuel in poorly ventilated spaces (especially small spaces) can cause high and dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when there is too much in the air, so, as you breath it in, your body replaces your oxygen blood cells with CO. This causes your organs and tissue to not receive the amount of oxygen they need, causing them to shut down which can lead to serious damage and even death.
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
While the actual carbon monoxide is hard to detect, the physical side effects of CO poisoning are pretty clear and knowing them could save your life. Symptoms will differ depending on the amount of inhaled carbon monoxide, and a few can be mistaken for flu symptoms. If you or someone around you starts to experience these symptoms suddenly, get into fresh air immediately and seek medical attention.
Signs of moderate exposure to CO often include the following:
- Shortness of breath
Signs of high exposure to CO often include the following:
- Loss of muscle control
- Excessive confusion
- Loss of consciousness
It is vital that the early signs of carbon monoxide poisoning are addressed by relocating from the affected area into fresh air. While around 400 people a year die from CO poisoning, many more suffer lifelong consequences including brain damage, heart disease and ongoing cardiac complications, miscarriage, and more. While everyone who is exposed to carbon monoxide is at risk for poisoning, some are hyper sensitive and at a greater risk for severe damage. Those who are more susceptible to CO poisoning typically include older adults and the elderly, children and infants, unborn babies, people who suffer from anemia or asthma, and anyone who already has heart or lung related diseases or illnesses.
Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
One of the best ways to prevent CO poisoning is by investing in a quality carbon monoxide detector and alarm system which saves thousands of lives every year. Check the batteries in these twice a year, and in the event the alarms go off, immediately remove everyone from the house, dial 911, and do not go back inside until your emergency responders instruct you to.
The Center for Disease Control has identified the most common causes for high levels of carbon monoxide and ways to avoid them.
- Never use a generator indoors, in a garage, in a basement, or on a patio.
- If you are using a generator, keep it at least 20 feet away from any space with windows, vents, or doors.
- Do not heat your car or let it run inside the garage, even if the garage door is open.
- Do not use portable chemical heaters indoors.
- Do not use a gas stove to heat your home.
- Have all gas/coal/propane burning appliances serviced regularly by a professional.
Call a Professional
Interested in learning more about carbon monoxide safety or how to install a detector? Contact AirOne Heating & Air Conditioning, a professional HVAC company in San Marcos, to get more information.