Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Posted: Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Carbon Monoxide Detector

On average, about 170 people die each year in the United States from carbon monoxide poisoning from non-automotive household products. Although the classic Hollywood treatment of the colorless, odorless, and extremely poisonous gas usually involves a TV character such as Mad Men’s Lane Pryce using the fumes of car exhaust to poison themselves, in reality carbon monoxide is potentially present in a variety of household appliances besides the car.

A malfunctioning or inappropriately used heating, cooking, or ventilation system in the home is, rather, the most common source of a toxic leak. Remember, this gas is undetectable by smell or taste, so it is easy to unknowingly inhale a lot of it at once, or even a lesser amount gradually over time. Both are highly hazardous. Concentration and duration of exposure are both important variables to overall toxicity.

Once CO gas enters the body and the bloodstream, it displaces oxygen and vital organs then become oxygen-deprived. Symptoms include chest tightness or shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, confusion, headache, or dizziness.

The one and only effective way to monitor the levels of carbon monoxide in your home is with a commercial CO detector. It is a must for every home, just as important as a smoke detector. The unit should be placed near the threshold of each bedroom. Find one that is certified by Underwriters Laboratories, such as Piper Fire’s own model.

Worth mentioning, meanwhile, is that according to the Environmental Protection Agency, a CO detector is just one part of an effective prevention plan. Just as important is proper regular maintenance on all fuel-burning appliances in and around the home. These would include furnaces, kerosene heaters, wood-burning stoves and fireplaces, gas ranges, generators, gas-fueled space heaters. Carbon monoxide is also found in cigarette and pipe smoke. Basically, anything that burns fuel should be well-running and properly ventilated.

If you suspect you have been affected by the gas, move outside to fresh air without hesitation. Seconds count, so don’t delay. Call 9-1-1 or proceed to emergency medical care right away.