As temperatures continue to drop and more and more people begin to make use of their heating systems – we are reminded of the dangers that accompany that. We talked about fire safety a few weeks ago, so we thought we should discuss something that is equally as important: Carbon Monoxide. Unlike fire, carbon monoxide is a silent killer. It can come in the night, without any detection, killing all those exposed in the home. Protecting your family from carbon monoxide is of vital importance, but it seems not everyone is aware of the dangers posed by carbon monoxide. So this week, we will go over some of the carbon monoxide basics. Keep an eye out these next couple of weeks as we continue to talk about carbon monoxide.
What is carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, and toxic gas. It kills about 500 people in the United States alone, every year. Safety At Home states that 200 of those deaths are due to carbon monoxide being emitted from a consumer product such as a water heater or stove. Because you can not smell, taste, or see the toxic fumes – you may not know they are there until it is too late.
Where does carbon monoxide come from?
You may be surprised to hear some of the common sources of carbon monoxide, such as:
Unvented kerosene and gas space heaters; leaking chimneys and furnaces; back-drafting from furnaces, gas water heaters, wood stoves, and fireplaces; gas stoves; generators and other gasoline powered equipment; automobile exhaust from attached garages; and tobacco smoke. Incomplete oxidation during combustion in gas ranges and unvented gas or kerosene heaters may cause high concentrations of CO in indoor air. Worn or poorly adjusted and maintained combustion devices (e.g., boilers, furnaces) can be significant sources, or if the flue is improperly sized, blocked, disconnected, or is leaking.
What are the effects of carbon monoxide on the human body?
There are different levels of effects based on the amount of exposure. For instance, someone that has had low levels of exposure to carbon monoxide may feel as though they have come down with the flu. Symptoms such as: slight headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, or chest pains in those that have heart disease. It is common to feel fine when you are out of the home, but to begin to feel like you are coming down with the flu once you have been home. Medium exposure may cause symptoms such as: throbbing headache, confusion, drowsiness, and a rapid heart rate. Extreme exposure will include symptoms such as: unconsciousness, convulsions, cardio-respiratory distress, and death. The poisonous gas causes carboxyhemoglobin to form in the blood, inhibiting oxygen intake – which is what causes all of the previously mentioned symptoms. It is not uncommon that those being afflicted by carbon monoxide poisoning to become so disoriented that even though they know something is wrong, are unable to save themselves from the gas.
These were just a few of the carbon monoxide basics. Next week we will talk about how protect yourself and your family from carbon monoxide poisoning in your home. For more information on CO or if you would like to schedule maintenance for your heating system, please give Anchor Heating and Air Conditioning a call at 770-942-2873 or contact us on the web: www.anchorac.com.