Carbon Monoxide – The invisible killer – are you protected?

Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause brain damage and death…..

You can’t see it, smell it, or taste it, but carbon monoxide can kill you.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Symptoms

Low levels of carbon monoxide poisoning can cause symptoms easily confused with signs of flu, food poisoning, or other illnesses and can cause long term health risks. Moderate levels of carbon monoxide exposure can cause death if symptoms persist for any length of time, and high levels of exposure can cause death within minutes.

Degree of Exposure: Symptoms:

Low level carbon monoxide exposure

Shortness of breath
Mild nausea
Headaches

Moderate levels carbon monoxide exposure

Headaches
Dizziness
Nausea
Lightheadedness

High levels carbon monoxide exposure

Sleepiness
Disorientation
Loss of consciousness
Can be fatal, causing death within minutes

 

What To Do If You Suspect Carbon Monoxide Exposure

  1. Get the victim into fresh air immediately.
  2. If victim cannot be removed from the house, open all windows and doors.
  3. Turn off all fuel-burning appliances immediately.
  4. Arrange for immediate transport to hospital emergency room. A simple blood test can determine whether exposure occurred and whether treatment is necessary.

Causes of high levels of carbon monoxide at home and at work

Carbon monoxide results from incomplete combustion. Common causes can be gas or oil fueled appliances like a furnace, clothes dryer, oven, water heater, or space heaters that are not working properly. Some of the more common conditions which cause CO levels to rise quickly are:

  • Appliance malfunction, i.e.: the heat exchanger on your furnace cracks
  • A vent, flue, or chimney blocked by debris, a nest, or snow
  • A fireplace or stove that is not properly vented
  • A vehicle warming up in an attached garage

Prevention is the way to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning

  • Have all fuel-burning appliances (including oil and gas furnaces, gas water heaters, gas ranges and ovens, gas dryers, gas or kerosene space heaters, fireplaces, and wood stoves) inspected and serviced by a reputable, trained, professional at the beginning of every heating season

  • Have all flues and chimneys inspected to be sure they are connected, in good condition, and not blocked in any way

  • Choose appliances that vent their fumes to the outside whenever possible, have them properly installed by a trained professional, and maintain them according to the manufacturer’s instructions

  • Be sure to read and carefully follow all instructions that come with any fuel-burning device.

  • Don’t idle your car in a garage attached to your home or office. Fumes build up very quickly and seep into other areas of the building

  • Don’t ever use a gas oven to heat your home

  • Don’t ever use a charcoal grill indoors (even in a fireplace!)

  • Don’t sleep in any room with an unvented gas or kerosene space heater

  • Don’t use any gasoline-powered engines (mowers, weed trimmers, snow blowers, chain saws, small engines or generators) in enclosed spaces.

  • Don’t ignore symptoms, especially if more than one person in the home or workplace is experiencing them. Victims can lose consciousness and die quickly without immediate care

Properly maintain your carbon monoxide detectors

Don’t let your carbon monoxide detector lull you into a false sense of security. The detector should be used as a back-up, but NOT as a replacement for proper use, professional inspection and maintenance of your fuel-burning appliances.

Be sure to replace all carbon monoxide detectors in accordance with manufacturer instructions. Many have a life span of only five (5) years!

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