Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas which causes potentially deadly poisoning. It’s normally produced when fuel is burnt. This means that any appliance that burns fuel within the house is a potential source of this gas. Carbon monoxide poisoning results when one inhales so much of this gas that it replaces oxygen in the bloodstream.
Sources of Carbon Monoxide
Space heaters, furnaces, fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, water heaters and gas central heating are the leading sources of carbon monoxide. The gas can leak to the atmosphere when such devices are poorly vented. Exhaust gases from a car parked in a closed garage can also produce the gas. On average, carbon monoxide poisoning results in around 40 fatalities and 300 injuries each year. However, such cases are under reported because there’s no automatic testing for carbon monoxide of people who succumb suddenly.
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
The initial symptoms are similar to the flu, albeit without the fever. Such include fatigue, dizziness, nausea, irregular breathing and headaches. If one has any of these symptoms and they feel better when they go outside but they reappear once they’re back indoors, they may have carbon monoxide poisoning.
What to do
If poisoning is suspected or detected, one is advised to get outside the car or building they’re presently in. You should then keep still to conserve oxygen in the blood, which recedes due to replacement by the gas. Immediate treatment is also important. At the ER, most cases are treated by administering oxygen therapy via a mask.
Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms should be installed on each level of the home and near bedrooms. These should meet industry safety standards and also comply with local regulations for domestic installation. It’s also advisable to call a certified professional to handle HVAC systems and correct any leaks.
Appliances, vents and chimneys should also be inspected for visible rust, soot, blockage, stains and corrosion. They should also be inspected annually. When in use, they should be vented properly to allow the gas to escape from enclosures. The fireplace should also not be closed before the fire is extinguished completely.
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