You can’t see, smell, or taste carbon monoxide, but it can cause serious physical damage or even kill you. It is a by-product of combustion and it unfortunately leads to over 400 American deaths and multiple hospitalizations annually.
Why Is Carbon Monoxide So Dangerous?
Carbon monoxide binds to the hemoglobin in your blood over 200 times more easily than oxygen. With carbon monoxide present, oxygen can’t get into the blood and your body needs oxygen to function properly.
Essentially, carbon monoxide starves parts of the body of oxygen which can lead to serious health complications or death. The longer a person’s exposed to carbon monoxide, the more severe the impact.
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
At first, a person may feel like they have the flu, but without a fever. They may lose their balance, memory, and experience vision problems. Eventually, they’ll lose consciousness.
Some people are more susceptible to the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning such as infants, small children and pregnant women. Pets are also very vulnerable since they have less blood than a human and prolonged carbon monoxide exposure often causes death.
Causes of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Many household cooking and heating devices produce carbon monoxide. When they operate properly, they’re safe. However, neglected or outdated equipment can malfunction and produce unusually high levels of deadly carbon monoxide.
Common household items that produce carbon monoxide include gas-burning appliances such as a stove, hot water tank, or fireplace. An oil burning furnace, wood stove, or wood burning fireplace can also produce the deadly gas.
Portable generators, engines, charcoal grills, swimming pool or spa heaters may also produce carbon monoxide, as well.
Any device that burns oil, gas, wood, or coal can produce carbon monoxide when the fuel does not fully combust.
What To Do If You Suspect Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
If a person, or a group of people in the same building exhibit the symptoms mentioned above, open the windows and doors. If you can safely move the people out of the building, do so.
Call 9-1-1, switch off all cooking and heating appliances, and move outside even if someone’s immobilized indoors. Let the ambulance attendants and other authorities attend to the victims. Don’t be a hero.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention
Ensure your home has a carbon monoxide alarm and every room has good ventilation. Don’t block fresh air intakes with furniture or decorations.
Have your appliances and chimney serviced regularly by a qualified professional, Replace old appliances when they recommend you should. A delay could be very dangerous.
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use your appliances as intended. Don’t use your oven, stove, or outdoor heater for heating the interior of your home.
Don’t run gas-powered tools, equipment, or engines in confined spaces such as your garage or workshop. Leaving a car running for just 10 minutes can create sufficient carbon monoxide gas to poison an individual.
Never operate a barbecue, generator, or gas-powered heater indoors. Maintain 20 feet from windows and doors when you run a generator.
Handle products with methylene chloride carefully. Wear a mask to avoid fumes.
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