What Is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can kill. It is present in fumes produced when one burns fuel in stoves, lanterns, fireplaces, grills, furnaces, gas ranges, small engines, or vehicles. Carbon monoxide poisoning can lead to brain damage and even death; unfortunately, people cannot see it, taste it, or smell it. Early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, such as fatigue, nausea, and headaches, are often mistaken for the flu. Poisoning occurs when the gas builds up in a person’s bloodstream, thereby replacing the oxygen in the red blood cells. Carbon monoxide is such an insidious killer that people who are drunk or sleeping can die before they have symptoms. Other symptoms and signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include:
• Dizziness
• Weakness
• Shortness of breath
• Blurred vision
• Confusion
• Chest pain
• Loss of consciousness

Everyone is at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning; however, it is particularly dangerous for unborn babies, children, and the elderly. Since fetal blood cells absorb carbon monoxide more readily than adult blood cells do, unborn babies are more susceptible to poisoning. Young children are also susceptible because they take breaths much more frequently that adults do. Older adults are more likely to develop brain damage due to carbon monoxide exposure.

How to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in your Home
• Install a battery back–up or battery–operated carbon monoxide detector.
• Have the water heater, heating system, and other coal, oil, or gas operated appliances and equipment serviced by a qualified and experienced HVAC technician annually.
• Avoid using portable flameless chemical heaters inside the house.
• Any strange odor from a gas refrigerator should be checked out by an expert.
• Only buy gas equipment carrying the seal of a reputable testing agency.
• Make sure all gas appliances are vented properly.
• Have the chimney inspected and checked every year.
• Never patch up a vent pipe with gum, tape, or something else.
• Avoid using the over or gas range for heating.
• Never burn charcoal indoors.
• Never use a generator inside the home garage, or basement.

Each year, hundreds of Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning not linked to fires, and more than 20,000 visit emergency rooms. People who notice symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning should go outside immediately and call for emergency medical help. Call us for all heating and air conditioning needs.