RBC I Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless and poisonous gas that is given off by the insufficient burning of natural gas and other substances containing carbon. It can be generated from heating systems that use natural gas, as well as gasoline-powered vehicles, charcoal grills or any device that burns gasoline, oil, wood, kerosene or charcoal. The danger in exposure to carbon monoxide is the effect on the oxygen levels in the body.
Carbon monoxide displaces the oxygen in blood and deprives vital organs like the heart and brain of it. Prevention is the key to keeping you and your family safe from carbon monoxide exposure.
To avoid carbon monoxide exposure, choose and install appliances that are properly vented. Most new appliances are designed to be carbon monoxide safe, but they have to be installed correctly. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, make sure these appliances are properly vented to the outside. If someone else is installing them, make sure they are certified to do so. As for existing appliances that burn natural gas or any other carbon monoxide producing material, make sure they are serviced regularly and operating correctly.
There are few things regarding carbon monoxide that most of us have done that we shouldn’t. Never let your car idle in the garage, even with the garage door open. Carbon monoxide can build up quickly, and if your garage is connected to your home, the fumes will also invade your living area. Never use a gas oven to heat your home. Never run a kerosene space heater in a non-ventilated room. Finally, never ignore the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning depend on the amount of exposure. Low levels of exposure may cause a mild headache or mild nausea. Moderate exposure can cause dizziness, headache, nausea and light headedness. High levels of exposure can be fatal within minutes. The most important thing to do for someone who has been exposed to carbon monoxide is to get them fresh air, preferably outside. The next thing to do is to call 911 for assistance.
Carbon monoxide detectors are available and can be installed as easily as a smoke detector. However, having one or more of these in your home is not an excuse for failing to properly maintain your carbon monoxide producing appliances.
There are many things that will do us or our family harm if left unchecked. Carbon monoxide is one of them. However, with proper maintenance of appliances, installation of carbon monoxide detectors and common sense, we can keep ourselves and the ones we love safe.