Understanding the dangers of Carbon Monoxide 

Carbon Monoxide, known by the chemical formula “CO”, is a poisonous gas that kills approximately 534 people in the United States every year. Of that number, roughly 207 were killed by CO emitted from a consumer product like a stove or water heater. You can’t hear, taste, see or smell it. It’s nicknamed the Silent Killer because it sneaks up on its victims and can take lives without warning.

CO is a by-product of incomplete combustion, and its sources often include malfunctioning appliances that operate by burning fossil fuels. When these malfunctioning appliances aren’t adequately ventilated, the amount of CO in the air may rise to a level that may cause illness or death. Other CO sources include vehicle exhaust, blocked chimney flues, fuel-burning cooking appliances used for heating purposes, and charcoal grills used in the home, tent, camper, garage or other unventilated areas.

When victims inhale CO, the toxic gas enters the bloodstream and replaces the oxygen molecules found on the critical blood component, hemoglobin, depriving the heart and brain of the oxygen necessary to function.

The following symptoms of CO poisoning should be discussed with all members of the household:

• Mild Exposure: Flu-like symptoms, including headache, nausea, vomiting and fatigue.

• Medium Exposure: Severe throbbing headache, drowsiness, confusion, fast heart rate.

• Extreme Exposure: Unconsciousness, convulsions, cardiorespiratory failure, death.

Young children and household pets are typically the first affected. Carbon Monoxide alarms are intended to signal at CO levels below those that cause a loss of ability to react to the danger of CO exposure.

CO detectors are not a replacement for proper use and maintenance of fuel-burning appliances.

CO Safety Precautions 

Install a CO detector in the hallway near every separate sleeping area of the home and make sure it cannot be covered up by furniture or draperies.

• NEVER burn charcoal inside a home, garage, vehicle, or tent.

• NEVER use portable fuel-burning camping equipment inside a home, garage, vehicle, or tent.

• NEVER leave a car running in an attached garage, even when the garage door is open.

• NEVER service fuel-burning appliances without proper knowledge, skills and tools.

• NEVER use gas appliances such as ranges, ovens or clothes dryers for heating your home.

• NEVER operate unvented fuel-burning appliances in any room with closed doors or windows, or in any room where people are sleeping.

• NEVER use gas-powered tools and engines indoors.


October, 2011                     Every Needful Thing                            Jason M. Carlton


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