Carbon monoxide is described as a colorless and odorless gas that is produced once any kind of fuel is burned. Even humans and animals produce limited amount of the gas when metabolizing food. Remember though that carbon monoxide can be deadly enough to kill an individual in just a matter of minutes. The problem occurs when carbon monoxide is produced in substantial amounts by burning fuels such as paper, wood, gas, oil, kerosene or other carbon-based source of combustion.
Cigars and cigarettes are notable sources of carbon monoxide including car exhaust, charcoal barbeques, oil and kerosene heaters, forest fires and various industrial processes.
Measures to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in your house
Various household appliances generate carbon monoxide. If appliances that burn fuel is maintained and used correctly, the amount of carbon monoxide generated is not dangerous. Nevertheless, if appliances are not functioning properly or not used properly, high levels of carbon monoxide can be produced. Take note that infants, young children, the elderly and those who have anemia and history of cardiac or respiratory diseases face a higher risk.
- Fuel-burning appliances including gas water heaters, oil and gas furnaces, gas dryers, gas ranges, fireplaces and kerosene space heaters should be regularly checked by a professional at the start of every heating season. In addition, ensure that the flues and chimneys are connected, in good condition and not clogged up.
- Select appliances that vent their fumes outside whenever possible. Make sure the installation is done right and well-maintained based on the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Do not leave any vehicle idle in a garage even if the garage door to the outside is open. The fumes can quickly build up in the garage and spread inside the house.
- Do not use a gas oven to heat the house even for a short period. Charcoal grills should not be used indoors.
- Do not ignore any symptoms especially if more than one individual in the household starts to feel sick. Remember that an individual can lose consciousness and die if you do nothing.
Indications of carbon monoxide poisoning
It is vital that you are familiar with the symptoms of poisoning. At modest levels, the symptoms include the following.
- Intense headaches
- Feeling faint
Remember that an individual can die if this level of exposure lasts for a long period.
As for low levels of carbon monoxide, the following signs and symptoms can occur:
- Mild nausea
- Shortness of breath
- Mild headaches
Take note that the exposure can cause long-term effects on the health though. Since most of these symptoms are somewhat similar to the flu, food poisoning or other illnesses, some might not consider carbon monoxide poisoning as the cause.
What to do if carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected?
If the individual experiences any of the symptoms and carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected, the following steps must be carried out without any delay.
- Bring the individual to an area with fresh air immediately. Open the windows and doors and try to turn off the source and leave the house.
- Bring the individual to the nearest emergency department and inform the doctor that you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning. In case poisoning occurred, it is often diagnosed by a blood test right after exposure.