Table of Contents
- What Is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
- What Are the Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
- Where Does Carbon Monoxide Come From in Your Home?
- How Can You Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
- 1. Install Carbon Monoxide Monitors
- 2. Test Your Carbon Monoxide Monitor System
- 3. Memorize the Signs and Symptoms
- 4. Clean Your Gas Dryer Filter
- 5. Limit Your Exposure to Carbon Monoxide
- 6. Run Drills and Develop an Emergency Plan With Your Family
- 7. Get Your Appliances Serviced Regularly
What Is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?Entirely odorless, colorless and impossible to detect on your own without any kind of aid, carbon monoxide is one of the most lethal gases found in households. Without a telltale sign, it can easily make its way into your home unnoticed. More than 400 people die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning annually. These numbers rise in the winter when people have their stoves, heaters and generators cranked up as high as they can go, making the colder season a particularly high-risk time of year.
What Are the Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?The low-level symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are quite similar to common flu symptoms, although there is typically no fever present with carbon monoxide poisoning. This is yet another reason carbon monoxide poisoning is so dangerous. Because it’s more likely to occur during the winter, which is also flu season, sufferers are likely to brush off their symptoms. They may assume they’re just suffering from the flu and will be better in a week or so.If you or anyone you know begins to display these signs and symptoms, don’t assume it’s a case of the flu. Take the necessary steps and find out for sure. If it’s really just the flu, it won’t hurt, and if it turns out to be carbon monoxide poisoning, it might just save a life.Low to moderate levels of exposure to carbon monoxide cause symptoms such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of muscular coordination
- Mental confusion
- Loss of consciousness
- Eventual death
- 1-9 PPM – Acceptable ambient levels if not caused by vented applications
- 10-35 PPM – Acceptable short term levels from unvented appliances but not vented. Occupants need to be advised of elevated levels of carbon monoxide
- 15-20 PPM – World Health Organization lists this as the first level of carbon monoxide can cause ill effects
- 27 PPM – 21% Increase in cardio respiratory complaints – Kurt 1978
- 30 PPM – Earlier onset of exercise induces angina. – World Health Organization
- 36-99 PPM – Excessive level. Advise occupants to seek fresh air, check for symptoms and ventilate area
- 100 PPM – Evacuate immediately. Advise occupants to check symptoms and seek medical attention
- 200 PPM – Accepted as causing ill effects in healthy adults (has caused death in some cases)
- 400 PPM – Life threatening to most after 2-3 hours
- 800 PPM – Unconscious to most after 1-2 hours, death after 2 hours
- 1600 PPM – Unconscious or death to most after one hour
- 3200 PPM – Death to most after 30 minutes
- 6400 PPM – Death to most after 10-15 minutes
- 12800 PPM – Death to most after 1-3 minutes
Where Does Carbon Monoxide Come From in Your Home?If carbon monoxide is such a harmful gas, you might wonder where in the world it comes from, and how it can find its way into your home. You might be surprised to know such a toxic gas can come from the most innocent and ordinary of sources.The general rule is any home appliance or piece of equipment that burns wood, propane, natural gas, oil, charcoal or coal is potentially a source of carbon monoxide in your home.
- Water heaters
- Ovens and ranges
- Space heaters
- Wood-burning stoves
- Backup generators
- Propane and charcoal grills
- Cars and other automobiles
- Gas-powered lawn mowers
How Can You Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?Now that we’ve discussed what carbon monoxide poisoning looks like and what causes it, it’s time to get practical. If common, everyday appliances have the potential to release this dangerous gas into your house, what can you do to minimize the danger and prevent any harm from coming to you and your family?Below are a few of the best tips for preventing carbon monoxide poisoning.
1. Install Carbon Monoxide MonitorsWithout a doubt, this is the single most important step you can take when it comes to preventing carbon monoxide poisoning, aside from being cautious to use your appliances correctly. However, it isn’t quite as simple as just buying a few detectors and installing them in random locations around the house. To be as effective as possible, there are a few key locations where you should install your carbon monoxide detectors. To create the best safety net, follow these guidelines on where to install your detectors.
- On every floor of your home, so you can hear the alarm no matter where you are
- Directly outside your sleeping areas, so no one sleeps through the alarm
- Near appliances that are potential hazards, but no closer than 15 feet. Otherwise, they may cause false alarms.
- On ceilings, since the hot air carrying the gas will rise
- Far from drafty areas such as windows, vents and air registers
- Far from bathrooms where steam and heat could cause false alarms
- Nowhere that receives direct sunlight, which can cause false alarms