By AJ Danboise
Safeguard Your Family Against the Dangers of CO
What’s colorless, odorless, tasteless, and has the capacity to harm or kill those who encounter it? If you guessed carbon monoxide, then you are right. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), each year 430 people die and approximately 50,000 people visit the emergency room due to carbon monoxide poisoning. This potentially dangerous gas, also known as a silent killer, is found in the fumes emitted by numerous appliances in your home such as generators, stoves, lanterns, and gas ranges.
The good news is that there are steps you can take to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. When it comes to safeguarding your loved ones, it’s critical to always act with vigilance. Because carbon monoxide is quite literally out of sight, it’s easy for it to also be out of mind. Don’t let this happen! Follow these simple yet important safety tips.
Why is carbon monoxide dangerous?
You already know that carbon monoxide (CO) is colorless, odorless, and dangerous, but do you know why it’s dangerous?
Here’s how the Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) puts it: Carbon monoxide is dangerous because, when inhaled, “it displaces oxygen in the blood and deprives the heart, brain and other vital organs of oxygen.” When large amounts of CO are inhaled in a short time, it can cause one to lose consciousness or suffocate. Other side effects include:
- Tightness in the chest
- Muscle weakness
Symptoms vary from person to person, meaning that you may experience only some of the side effects. People with health conditions are at a greater risk. If any of these conditions apply, you or a loved one may experience side effects sooner:
- Young children
- Elderly people
- People with lung or heart disease
- People at high altitudes
If you seek medical attention in a prompt manner, poisoning can often be reversed. However, per OSHA research, while you may recover, acute poisoning may result in permanent damage to areas that require substantial oxygen such as the brain and heart. In some cases, it may also effect reproductive organs.
Tips on Preventing CO Poisoning at Home:
CO poisoning doesn’t happen often, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take precautionary measures to prevent it. Follow these general prevention tips provided by the CDC:
- Do not heat your home using a gas range or your oven.
- Do not park your car in a closed, or even partially closed, garage while it’s running.
- Do not run generators, pressure washers, or gasoline-powered appliances in basements, garages or enclosed areas, even if a window or door is open. The only time it’s safe to run these in the specified areas is when they have been professionally installed and vented.
- Make sure your vents and flues are free of debris.
- Do not use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside a home, tent or camper.
Install CO Detectors:
Installing CO detectors throughout your home is an effective way to prevent poisoning from occurring. Follow the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) tips on installing CO detectors:
- Install detectors outside each sleeping area and on every level of the house. The best practice is to interconnect all detectors so that when one goes off, it triggers the others to do the same.
- Read your manufacturer’s guide on instructions for placement and mounting height.
- Purchase a detector that’s been tested by a recognized laboratory.
- Test your detectors once every month to ensure they’re working properly. If there’s a chirping sound indicating the batteries are low on power, change the batteries immediately.
- Install new detectors every 5-7 years.
How to Treat CO Poisoning:
If you suspect that you or a loved one have CO poisoning, leave the premise and seek medical treatment immediately or call 9-1-1. Because symptoms often feel like the flu or food poisoning, one might not realize what’s happening.
Once in the emergency room, you may be given a mask to put over your mouth and nose and directed to breathe pure oxygen. If you’re having difficulty breathing on your own, a ventilator may be required to do the breathing for you.
Often, medical professionals will turn to a pressurized oxygen chamber as a treatment method. During this treatment, you will breathe pure oxygen in a chamber where the air pressure is two to three times higher than normal. Higher air pressure levels help speed the process of replacing carbon monoxide with oxygen. You will most likely undergo this type of treatment if your poisoning is severe or you are pregnant.
At AJ Danboise Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electrical, we offer comprehensive indoor air quality service, which includes installing CO detectors. Should you need any assistance with installing your detectors or determining the best detector for your home, be sure to give us a call at (248) 477-3626! We’re standing by to assist you in a friendly and professional manner.