Carbon Monoxide: What You Need to Know

You may have heard of the dangers of carbon monoxide, but there may be some important information on the subject that you may not know.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a largely preventable situation, and being armed with the right information can save you and your loved ones from this deadly gas and its tragic effects:

  1. Carbon monoxide has no color, no odor, and no taste. Lethal amounts of carbon monoxide (CO) can accumulate when fuel is not burned properly, resulting in incomplete combustion of fossil fuels such as gas, oil, coal and wood that are used in boilers, engines, gas fires, water heaters, solid fuel appliances and more. You will not be able to detect CO in your home by smelling or seeing.
  2. It’s critical that your home has good ventilation, your appliances are properly maintained at all times, and that you ALWAYS have working detectors installed. Many smoke alarms also will detect for carbon monoxide, but not all of them. If you’re not sure how yours operate, strongly consider replacing them with new ones that do detect the deadly gas. They will send out visual and audible alarms when there is a build-up of CO to dangerous levels.
  3. Carbon monoxide produces severe effects to people exposed, including: severe headaches, dizziness, nausea, convulsions, loss of consciousness and finally, death. This is all within a few hours of high exposure levels.
  4. Carbon monoxide poisons a person by entering the lungs via normal breathing and displaces oxygen from the bloodstream. With this interruption of normal oxygen supply, the functions of the heart, brain and other vital organs suffer critically.
  5. Each year, nearly 5,000 people in the country are treated in the ER for poisoning. It can kill without warning, while families sleep. It is a silent killer. Also, since so many deaths occur as the result of defective heating devices, carbon monoxide has been termed the “silent cold weather killer”.

To protect yourself and your family, it is crucial to maintain your appliances and preventive maintenance is crucial, especially for your furnace. It’s recommended that you have a heating and air conditioning repair expert in Ames. Make sure ventable appliances actually are vented properly. Never use charcoal grills indoors, and never use an unvented combustion heater overnight or in a room where you are sleeping. If you use a kerosene space heater, make sure there is adequate ventilation. Never leave your car  running in a garage with the garage door down. Keep chimneys and fireplaces clean and always make sure your carbon monoxide alarms are properly working and batteries are not low.