carbon monoxide Category
CO poisoning, caused by exposure to carbon monoxide gas, can be chronically debilitating at low levels and quickly fatal at higher levels. Carbon monoxide, a byproduct of combustion in gas-fired furnaces, stoves, motor vehicles and even wood-burning fireplaces, is odorless and colorless and may accumulate inside a home without occupants being aware of it. This is why it is so important to know the early signs of CO Poisoning.
At up to 70 parts per million (ppm) of CO concentration in indoor air, most people will experience no symptoms. Between 70 ppm and 150 ppm, symptoms may be vague and easily dismissed as indications of any number of other illnesses. Above 150 ppm, disorientation, unconsciousness and death from CO poisoning can occur in rapid succession.
Know the Early Signs of CO Poisoning
Because the effects of CO poisoning vary according to the concentration in the air and individual factors like age and general health, it’s important to be aware of early symptoms like these:
- Shortness of breath or labored breathing.
- Nausea and loss of appetite.
Specific Signs of CO Poisoning
Since these symptoms mimic early stages of other common illnesses, especially the flu, also be aware of these additional factors that are specific to CO poisoning:
- Symptoms disappear or greatly diminish when you leave the house for any length of time.
- Everyone living in the house reports symptoms instead of only one or a few individuals, as with common flu.
- Those who spend the most time at home have the most severe symptoms.
- The symptoms are not accompanied by other classic flu-like signs such as fever or swollen glands.
- Household pets may also become lethargic, lose appetite and show other unexplained symptoms.
The best protection from carbon monoxide is the proper number of CO detectors installed at the right places in the home. That means one per each level of the house plus one inside or directly outside every bedroom. Test detectors monthly and replace batteries twice a year in battery-powered units.
For more advice about recognizing the early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, and technology to protect your family from the consequences, contact the professionals Apollo Home Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Plumbing today.
While carbon monoxide gas (CO) is itself undetectable to the senses, carbon monoxide red flags in your home are visible if you know what to look for. Colorless and odorless, CO is a byproduct of combustion ranging from a wood fire in the fireplace to the kitchen stove to a gas-fired furnace burner. It’s also in the exhaust of internal combustion vehicles and small engines like lawnmowers and electrical generators. Approximately 450 Americans die from carbon monoxide gas every year—many in their sleep, having gone to bed totally unaware that CO from some source was silently filling the house. As many as 8,000 each year have to be hospitalized due to exposure to the gas.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors
The most important safeguard against the potentially fatal effects of CO is the proper number of functional carbon monoxide detectors in the home. In most residences, one detector per floor plus one in or immediately outside every sleeping area is recommended. Annual tune-up and evaluation of gas-fired systems, particularly the furnace, water heaters and stove, by a qualified professional is also recommended.
Other Carbon Monoxide Red Flags
Because the difference between the concentration of carbon monoxide gas that will sicken versus the amount that will rapidly kill can be quite small, it’s also important to remain alert for carbon monoxide red flags such as:
- Soot or smoke streaks on or around gas-fired appliances indicating inadequate venting or backdrafting.
- Noticeable moisture and condensation forming on interior walls and windows. Excess water vapor, a byproduct of combustion, in indoor air may signal an obstructed furnace vent or water heater vent.
- Rust on the furnace flue or other vent pipes in the house is another sign of inadequate exhaust gas venting.
- Burner flame in the furnace, water heater or stove that is yellow or orange. Any color other than blue is indicative of incomplete combustion, which may be generating excessive CO gas.
- Fireplace smoke entering the house due to insufficient upward draft in the chimney.
Contact the professionals at Apollo Home Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Plumbing about any potential carbon monoxide red flags you may notice in your home.
Wherever combustion occurs, hazardous carbon monoxide gas is the natural by-product. This includes your gas furnace, stove or water heater, the engine of your automobile, a charcoal grill or even firewood burning in the fireplace. Carbon monoxide (CO) in sufficient concentrations is fatal, and in an average year about 500 people in the United States die from inhaling it. Thousands of others are sick enough to require a trip to an emergency room and subsequent hospitalization.
Most local building codes today require CO detectors in every home, at least one on each level of the house. Here are some of the reasons why CO can be such a threat:
- It’s odorless, colorless and invisible. If your house was slowly filling with deadly CO at this very moment, without a detector you would most likely be totally unaware of it. Many people who die from exposure to this gas are found in bed, having gone to sleep for the night without any knowledge whatsoever that the hazard was present in the house.
- Early symptoms of exposure to the gas are very non-specific and often dismissed as a common illness such as the flu or simple fatigue. However, symptoms can rapidly advance from the seemingly unimportant to the fatal. The amount of CO exposure that causes tiredness and a headache is only slightly less than the amount that can cause rapid unconsciousness followed by death.
- Long-term exposure to only trace levels of carbon monoxide is also dangerous. It can cause brain damage, heart trouble, memory and cognitive issues, and behavioral changes. The very young and the elderly are especially susceptible to danger from both short- or long-term exposure.
Test your carbon monoxide detector twice a year by pressing and holding the “Test” button on the face of the unit until the alarm sounds. If the unit does not respond, replace it immediately. If the detector is battery-powered, install fresh batteries twice a year.
Avoid the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning by having life-saving detectors installed in your home. Contact Apollo Homefor more information.
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