What You Need to Know About Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
We know how serious carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is. Our Dean’s Shop professionals provide maintenance and service on all possible carbon-monoxide-producing appliances, as well as carbon monoxide detectors for your San Marcos home and office.
What Is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide is a poisonous, odorless, and tasteless gas. It’s formed by the incomplete combustion of carbon, or by the incomplete burning of natural gas and other things containing carbon.
Many times it’s mixed with other gases you can actually detect because they emit odors. Carbon monoxide can result when you burn gasoline, kerosene, oil, propane, coal, wood, and the like. It is also a by-product of an internal combustion engine.
What Is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
When you inhale carbon monoxide, it displaces the oxygen in your blood and therefore deprives your heart, brain, and other organs of oxygen. The severity of your exposure is related to the level of carbon monoxide in the air and the duration of your exposure. If there is a large amount present, it will work very quickly, causing you to pass out or suffocate.
A small carbon monoxide leak in your home may cause gradual and mild symptoms you may not notice until it’s too late. A larger leak, typical in more industrial environments, would cause sudden exposure, loss of muscle control, and, in some cases, death.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 400 people per year die of carbon monoxide poisoning, 20,000 more visit the emergency room, and 4,000 people are hospitalized.
What Are the Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning range from mild flu-like symptoms to more serious and dramatic symptoms, like loss of consciousness and breathing issues. The severity is again related to the levels and length of exposure.
Here are just some of the symptoms you could experience:
- Upset stomach
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Blurred vision
- Loss of consciousness
Carbon monoxide can be especially dangerous to those sleeping or intoxicated and for young children and elderly. It may cause death before any symptoms are noted.
What Is a Dangerous Carbon Monoxide Level?
Most people will have no symptoms at 1 to 70 parts per million (ppm). If you have someone in your house who is more susceptible, such as someone very young or old, you may see symptoms at any level.
But for the average person, you will not see any symptoms until the levels get above 70 ppm. A 150 to 200 ppm level will cause disorientation, unconsciousness, and death.
How Can I Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
Here in Texas, there are a number of things you can do to prevent poisoning and keep the carbon monoxide levels down in your home or office:
- Be sure you operate all appliances according to the manufacturers’ guidelines and read all owner’s manuals before attempting to service or clean anything. Never service your fuel-burning appliances yourself. Have a trained professional install, service, and clean any appliances that utilize combustion of any kind.
- Have one of our professionals inspect your heating system annually, if not more, for any leaks or potential blockages, corrosion, or disconnections.
- Never run any gasoline-powered appliance or generator in or near an enclosed space. Even with proper ventilation, carbon monoxide levels can build up rapidly and cause death or loss of consciousness. The same is true for any kind of combustible appliance, including camping stoves, gas grills, and other fuel-burning devices or equipment.
- Do not use your gas stove or other appliances to heat your home.
- Never leave your car running in the garage, even with the garage door open.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector. A carbon monoxide detector or alarm is a device that measures the level of carbon monoxide in the air and alerts you when levels reach too high. Although this is not a substitute for proper carbon monoxide safety procedures, this can aid in your protection. Install an alarm near any area where people sleep in your home. People who are sleeping are often the most at risk of death. They can breathe in lethal doses of carbon monoxide before they would ever wake up and exhibit symptoms.