Tips in Dealing with the Danger of Carbon Monoxide



Carbon Monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in North America. Carbon Monoxide is a flammable, colourless, odourless, tasteless toxic gas produced during incomplete combustion of fuel - Natural Gas, Oil, Coal, Wood, Kerosene, etc. Because you can’t see, taste or smell it, carbon monoxide can kill you before you know it’s there.

Every home should have at least one carbon monoxide detector that meets the requirements of the Underwriters Laboratories Standards. Please refer to the topics below for more information.

  1. Carbon monoxide can escape from any fuel burning appliance, furnace, water heater, fireplace, woodstove or space heater.
  1. -It can spill from vent connections in poorly maintained or blocked chimneys.
  1. -Seep through the flue liner if it is cracked or deteriorated.
  2. -It can spill back into the house if there is something blocking the flue.
  3. -Improperly sized flues connected to furnaces and water heaters.
  4. -Warming up a vehicle attached to a garage, even with the garage door open.

The great danger of CO is its attraction to hemoglobin in the bloodstream. CO is breathed in through the lungs and bonds with hemoglobin in your blood, displacing the oxygen which cells need to function. When CO is present in the air, it rapidly accumulates in the blood. It eventually displaces enough oxygen in your system to suffocate you from inside out. Low levels of carbon monoxide poisoning result in symptoms commonly mistaken for flu and cold symptoms - shortness of breath on mild exertion, mild headaches and nausea. With higher levels of poisoning, the symptoms become more severe - dizziness, mental confusion, severe headaches, nausea, fainting on mild exertion. At high levels there may be unconsciousness and death.

If you are experiencing chronic flu like symptoms, see your doctor and ask him if it could be a low level of CO poisoning. If you have a CO detector and it alarms, open windows and ventilate your home with fresh air. Have your heating system checked by a professional immediately. If your alarm sounds and you are feeling drowsy or dizzy, leave the house immediately and call 911 from a nearby phone.







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