Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon Monoxide - an airborne poison that kills about 250 people each year in the United States, and seriously affects the health of many more. Carbon Monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can occur when coal, wood, propane, kerosene, or natural gas are improperly or incompletely burned.
That can happen in a number of different ways:
- When a heater, stove or furnace is malfunctioning.
- When a charcoal cooker is used indoors without adequate ventilation.
- When a bird's nest clogs your chimney.
Symptoms of CO Poisoning
People exposed to carbon monoxide usually compare their reaction to common symptoms of the flu.
Light or early exposure to the gas may cause you to have a headache, experience drowsiness, get a ringing sensation in your ears, become nauseous, or have blurred vision or chest paints. You may even feel like you're going to faint.
Heavy or prolonged exposure gets much worse. You can lose consciousness and have convulsions that can cause brain damage and even death.
You can protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning by following these tips:
- Make sure each and every one of your household gas appliances is correctly installed, and have them checked annually for continued safety.
- Have your chimneys cleaned and checked every year for obstructions.
- Don't cook with charcoal indoors except on grills especially designed for indoor use. These grills have a built-in exhaust system that carries away smoke and fumes.
- Never start your car and allow it to warm up in a closed garage. This is the leading source of fatal carbon monoxide poisoning incidents. Always open your garage door when you start the engine. And just to be safe, let the car warm up or cool down outside the garage.
Carbon Monoxide detectors are designed to sense concentrations of CO in the air. They're made to sound an alarm before dangerous levels of the gas can be absorbed into your blood.
The detectors on the market these days are either battery or AC operated. They generally cost $50-$100 each. The number of detectors you need depends on the size of your house. You'll want to be sure to guard your sleeping areas.
False alarms have been a problem with some detectors, but these devices can be valuable protectors if chosen carefully. Check the detectors and make sure they carry the approval of the American Gas Association and the Gas Research Institute. Models carrying these names have passed the most exacting tests in the industry.