All About Carbon Monoxide and CO Poisoning
What is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide is a poisonous, odorless, tasteless gas. It is formed by the incomplete combustion of carbon, or the incomplete burning of natural gas and other things that contain carbon. It can often be mixed with other gasses with odors. Carbon monoxide can result from the burning of any of these, gasoline, kerosene, oil, propane, coal, wood and other things. It is also a byproduct of an internal combustion engine.
What is Carbon Monoxide poisoning?
When CO is inhaled it displaces the oxygen in your blood and therefore deprives the heart, brain and organs of oxygen. The severity of exposure is related to the level of carbon monoxide in the air and the duration of exposure. If there is a large amount present, it would work very quickly and suddenly causing a person to pass out or suffocate.
A small carbon monoxide leak into the home may cause gradual and mild symptoms that you may not notice until it’s too late. A large leak, typical in more industrial environments, would cause sudden exposure, loss of muscle control and in some cases death.
The CDC estimates that 400 people per year die of carbon monoxide poisoning, 20,000 more visit the emergency room and 4,000 people are hospitalized.
What are the symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
Symptoms range from mild flu like symptoms to more serious and dramatic symptoms. The severity is again related to the levels and length of exposure.
- upset stomach
- chest pain
- shortness of breath
- blurred vision
- loss of consciousness
Carbon monoxide can be especially dangerous to those sleeping or intoxicated and for young children and elderly. It may cause death before any symptoms are noted.
What is a dangerous Carbon Monoxide Level?
Most people will have no symptoms at 1-70 ppms. If you have someone in your house that is more susceptible, such a a very young or very old person you may see symptoms at any level. But for the average person you won’t see any symptoms until the levels get above 70 ppms. A 150-200 ppm level will cause disorientation, unconsciousness and death.
How can I prevent Carbon Monoxide poisoning?
There are a number of things that you can do to prevent poisoning and keep the CO levels in your residence down.
- Make sure you operate all appliances according the manufacturers guidelines. Make sure you read all owners manuals before attempting to service and clean. Never service your fuel burning appliances yourself. Have a trained professional to install, service and clean any appliances that require combustion of some kind.
- Have your heating system inspected annually for any leaks or potential blockages, corrosion or disconnections.
- Never run any gasoline powered appliance or generator in or near and enclosed space. Even with proper ventilation CO levels can build up rapidly and cause death or loss of consciousness. The same is true for any kind of combustable appliance which includes camping stoves, gas grills, and other things that burn fuel.
- Do not use your gas stove or other appliances to heat your home.
- Never leave your car running in the garage, even with the door open.
- Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector. CO alarms are a device that measure the level of carbon monoxide in the air and can alert you when levels reach too high. Although this is not a substitute for proper carbon monoxide safety procedures, this can help aid in protection. Install an alarm near any area where people sleep. People that are sleeping are often the most at risk of death. They can breathe in lethal doses of CO before they would ever wake up and exhibit symptoms.
At AA Air we offer Defender Carbon Monoxide Alarms.
Some of the features of these are:
- Non-Removable Lithium Batteries
- Large Easy-to-Read Digital Display
- Monitor Current CO Level from 10ppm
- Display Peak CO Level and Duration
- Accurate Electrochemical Sensor
- Secure Mounting System
Contact us today about installing a Carbon Monoxide Detector today in your home or office.
If you are in Knoxville, Farragut, Lenoir City, Alcoa or any of the surrounding communities, call one of the experts at AA Air Co. and we can help you save money this season. Visit our service area page and if you don’t see your city listed, please call us for more information.