Carbon Monoxide Safety

Hundreds of people die EVERY YEAR from Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning. This deadly gas is hard to detect because it is odorless, colorless and tasteless. Below is more information about what Carbon Monoxide is, and how to prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning:

What IS Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon Monoxide is a colourless, odorless, tasteless, toxic gas that is produced by the incomplete combustion of the fossil fuels – gas, oil, coal and wood used in boilers, engines, oil burners, gas fires, water heaters, solid fuel appliances and open fires.

How does Carbon Monoxide become dangerous?

Dangerous amounts of CO can accumulate when, as a result of poor installation, poor maintenance or failure or damage to an appliance in service, the fuel is not burned properly, or when rooms are poorly ventilated and the Carbon Monoxide is unable to escape. Carbon Monoxide poisons by entering the lungs via the normal breathing mechanism and displacing oxygen from the bloodstream. Interruption of the normal supply of oxygen puts at risk the functions of the heart, brain and other vital functions of the body.

What are the warning signs of CO Poisoning?

Commonly, lower-level carbon monoxide patients describe their symptoms as those of a “flu-type” syndrome. They frequently complain of tiredness, headache, blurred vision, runny nose, and may not associate or recognize the symptoms as being the result of CO poisoning. A one month retroactive study of patients reporting to a hospital emergency room with “flu-like” symptoms revealed that almost one quarter of them (23.6%) had a CO level greater than 10 percent!

Often, several members of the same family or those in a given building will complain of the same symptoms. Children are thought to be more susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning than adults. Some people may not suspect that CO poisoning is occurring until major symptoms appear. Carbon Monoxide poisoning can mimic gastroenteritis (nausea and vomiting). Other manifestations may cause the appearance of what may appear to be a neurological or psychiatric disorder. High risk groups include infants, the elderly, pregnant women, and anyone with a previous history of cardiac insufficiency or chronic obstructive lung disease.

What do I do if I think I might be being effected by dangerous Carbon Monoxide?

If you think YOU or anyone in your family is being effected by Carbon Monoxide, the most important thing to do is to move outside into fresh air. Once outside, CALL 911. The fire department will monitor Carbon Monoxide levels in your home and suggest appropriate steps to remedy the problem.

How do I protect myself and my family from Carbon Monoxide?

Many lives could be saved and much disability prevented if citizens could learn to recognize and prevent the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. Preventive efforts such as checking furnace flues, chimneys, and vents could help to alleviate the hazard. The use of good common sense in not using open flames, ovens and other appliances not intended for heating, could reduce the number of carbon monoxide related incidents. It is also recommended that homeowners have their complete heating systems checked before every heating season. Never start a car or gas lawnmower/snowblowere in a closed garage. Never use a gas or charcoal grill indoors. And finally, PURCHASE A CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTOR from your local hardware store. It is a small price to pay for saving a life.