With so many carbon monoxide poisoning incidents in the news lately, I've been doing some research to learn more about this gas. From what I have gleaned on the subject I am going to discuss the things I think it is important for everyone to know about carbon monoxide and how to prevent poisoning from it.
The reason it can poison you before you know it is because it is odorless and colorless. You never know it is present until you start to feel some of the effects and even then most people do not suspect carbon monoxide. What are those effects? Headache, body aches, fatigue, nausea, dizziness and shortness of breath. Most of those sound like a symptoms of a case of the flu, right? After more extended exposure mental confusion, vomiting, loss of muscular coordination and even loss of consciousness begin to come on.
Usually an average of 170 people die in the US each year from carbon monoxide poisoning. Several thousand people arrive in emergency rooms and are treated for carbon monoxide poisoning each year.
What produces this deadly gas? The real culprit is the incomplete burning of fuels such as coal, wood, natural gas, gasoline, kerosene, propane and charcoal. When appliances are not working properly and there is inadequate ventilation, the carbon monoxide can creep into houses, buildings, garages, tents and cars. It is lighter than air and moves freely. Even where there is some ventilation, it may be inadequate for the amount of carbon monoxide being produced. If vents are not sealed properly, the gas can leak into areas of homes, buildings or cars. Any of these appliances and motors can produce carbon monoxide: furnaces, gas ranges and ovens, water heaters, gas dryers, portable generators, lawn mowers, fireplaces, bar-b-que grills and gas room heaters.
Here are some precautions to take to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning;
- Always use a certified person for repairing fuel-burning appliances
- Do not operate fuel burning or coal burning grill, heater, generator, lawn mower, camping equipment or other motor within the confines of a garage, building, home or tent.
- Install a carbon monoxide alarm
- Never leave a car running in a garage, even with the door open
- Never use gas burning ranges, ovens or other appliance to heat your home.
- Do not cover the bottom or gas ranges with aluminum foil.
If you have even the slightest idea that you may be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, go outside and breath fresh air. Be sure everyone in the house does so also. Call 911 and stay outside. Never go back inside until the home or building has been cleared by emergency responders.