Carbon monoxide is a huge health risk associated with any kind of home heating appliance as well as many other kinds of appliances.
Knowing how to protect your family from this fatal gas is extremely important and can be lifesaving. Despite increasing safety standards and a generally strong reputation for gas heaters, people still do die from CO poisoning. Due to innovations in the heating and cooling world including higher efficiency appliances and more air tight homes, carbon monoxide poisoning is becoming more and more prominent in the United States.
What Does Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?
How does CO actually harm you and your family? Well, its a odorless, colorless gas which infiltrates the body’s blood stream. As the level of poisoning increases, symptoms include an increasingly sever headache, fainting or collapsing due to trouble breathing, and comas which can quickly become fatal. Carbon monoxide poisoning elevates to a very severe condition very quickly, it essentially robs the cells of the body of oxygen and replaces it with CO. Even small amounts in the blood stream are considered hazardous or bad for one’s health.
CO? Or CO2?
Carbon monoxide, the lethal gas, and carbon dioxide, the gas that we exhale and the gas which trees take in to produce their livelihood, are separated by only one molecule of oxygen. Carbon monoxide is one carbon and one oxygen molecule and carbon dioxide is one carbon and two oxygen molecules. Homes that are too air tight often cause the production of carbon monoxide because when gas is being combusted without enough fresh, oxygen containing air, carbon monoxide instead of dioxide is produced. A faulty or malfunctioning appliance can also produce carbon monoxide even if there is ample air supply.
Prevent Health Risks
In order to prevent these serious injuries from carbon monoxide poisoning from occurring, there are a few steps that you can take.
1. Have your appliances inspected yearly by a professional who will be able to detect any faulty parts or malfunctions of the appliance which could lead to CO being produced.
2. Install a carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home. Having a detector will alert the family if unsafe levels of carbon monoxide occur in the home.
3. Have a professional check to make sure that the chimney, pipe, or other means of ventilation for the appliance is properly sized and in good working order. The flue system through which these appliances are vented should be checked for blockages or debris in order to ensure that the toxic chemicals can escape the home safely.
If You Suspect Carbon Monoxide In The Home
Leave immediately! Contact a professional to come and evaluate the problem. If your carbon monoxide detectors go off, evacuate your entire family and do not enter until the problem has been cleared by a professional. Use the neighbor’s phone to call for help, and if any family member seems ill or exhibits any signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, seek medical attention immediately.
A well kept, routinely inspected appliance should not cause problems in your household, but knowing the causes of carbon monoxide and what to do if an emergency occurs can be lifesaving.