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Why is Carbon Monoxide so Dangerous?

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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 Home for more information.

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