Knowledge Is the Key to Fighting this Silent Killer
Carbon monoxide (CO) is called a “silent killer” because it’s colorless and odorless. Now that it’s September, it’s important to bring up this very important topic because winter is getting closer and that’s the time of year when CO-related deaths increase.
But before we go more in-depth into the answers to the most frequently asked questions about carbon monoxide and the poisoning it can cause:
Unfortunately, you can put many preventative measures in place, but that doesn’t necessarily prevent something from going wrong that causes deadly exposure. Good detection will alert you of the presence of CO so you can immediately take action. Because the gas is odorless and colorless, there is really no other way to know it is in the air without getting very ill first. Still, many people don’t realize that their illness is related to carbon monoxide poisoning and will go take a nap (extremely dangerous) or eventually lose consciousness.
Where Can You Find CO?
CO is produced anywhere fuel is burned. In a homes and even businesses, stoves, lanterns, fireplaces, grills, gas ranges, and gas furnaces are sources of CO. When operating properly, these items emit levels so low they aren’t harmful. However, nothing operates well forever.
Some businesses, such as industrial environments where there are fuel-burning machines used inside, CO can build up and make workers sick. Think of an auto mechanic and how they work on vehicles inside.
According to the CDC, nearly 20% of CO-related incidents occur in different types of businesses, while 50% of incidents occur in homes.
Who Is Most At Risk for CO Poisoning?
Everyone! However, a person with breathing problems or a heart problem or a person of very young or advanced age is more likely to get sick or sicker. Every year 400 AMERICANS DIE FROM ACCIDENTAL CO POISONING. This poisoning isn’t fire-related. MORE THAN 20,000 PEOPLE end up in the emergency room and more than 4,000 of them must stay in the hospital.
That’s A LOT of people!
Check out this extremely informational video on how CO poisoning happens and how it starves the body of oxygen, leading to CO poisoning:
How to Prevent CO Poisoning
CO detector installation is the best place to start. Professional CO detector installation is even better because you end up with a system that works at all times with sensors in all the right places. When CO detection is a part of your security system, the 24/7 monitoring center can alert the authorities on your behalf in the event of an emergency.
Other things to do include:
- Have your heating system, hot water tank, and anything else that operates on gas or burns coal serviced each year. While not 100% effective, inspection and service greatly increases safety.
- Don’t use flameless chemical heaters inside.
- If you smell gas and you don’t know the source, get out. If you know the source, turn it off if you can safely do so. Have that item professionally serviced.
- Only buy gas equipment that has a national testing agency seal.
- Gas appliances should be properly vented.
- Chimneys should be inspected and cleaned annually.
- Vent pipes should never be patched with unauthorized materials or CO could build up.
- Gas ranges or ovens should never be used for heating.
- Charcoal or portable camp stoves should never be burned indoors.
- Generators should never be used indoors (including the basement or less than 20 feet from a vent, door, or window)
What Are the Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
The most common symptoms can mimic other conditions, which is why so many people miss that what they are experiencing is CO poisoning. This amplifies why having a detector in place can save your life.
If you have a dull headache, feel week, feel dizzy, start vomiting, feel nauseous, are confused, or your vision is blurred, you could be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning. A detector will tell you for sure so you know to get out of the home or business as soon as possible.
Depending on how long and how intense the exposure, CO poisoning can cause fetal death or miscarriage in a pregnant woman, heart damage, and even brain damage. The ultimate consequence is death, which is most common among people who are sleeping or intoxicated.
Rochester, NY Carbon Monoxide Detector Installation
If you live in Rochester, Buffalo, or Syracuse and you don’t have the proper CO detection in place, it’s imperative to take action as soon as possible. This is the best time of year to do it because the use of gas-burning appliances and other tools increase when the temperatures start dropping in the fall.
To learn about the differences between a DIY CO detector and professional carbon monoxide detector installation or to begin protecting yourself and everyone you care about ASAP, call SPS Fire & Security at 585-770-0348.