What is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon Monoxide, also known as CO is a colourless and odourless gas that can kill you.
Where do you find CO?
Co is present in the fumes emanating from the fuel burnt in trucks and cars, engines that are small, grills, lanterns, stoves, furnaces, or gas ranges. CO can build up in an indoor setting and poison animals and people who inhale it when breathing.
What are CO poisoning symptoms?
Some of the common CO poisoning symptoms are weakness, dizziness, headaches, confusion, chest pain and vomiting, and upset stomach. The symptoms of CO poisoning are described by experts as “flu-like”. If you happen to breathe in copious amounts of CO, you may pass out and even die. Those who are drunk or asleep when exposed to CO can die from CO poisoning even before they exhibit any symptoms.
Who are at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning?
Just about anyone is at risk from CO poisoning. Out of these, people who have chronic diseases like heart problems, anaemia, breathing problems, elderly, and infants are especially susceptible.
How to prevent CO poisoning at home?
- Put in place a battery backup or a battery-operated CO detector in your house and do not forget to check and replace the battery every fall and spring. Install the detector within hearing distance, so that it can wake you up in an emergency, a place like outside the bedroom. Another option is investing in a detector that has a digital readout. This electronic detector, apart from alarming, can also give you the figures for the maximum levels of CO concentration in your house. The CO detector should be replaced once every 5 years.
- A qualified technician needs to service your water heater, heating system, along with coal, gas, or oil-burning appliances.
- Avoid using flameless portable chemical heaters inside your home.
- If you think an odour is coming from the refrigerator, call a technician to service it as soon as possible. Refrigerator leaks are often indicative of CO.
- When buying gas equipment, only buy those that have the seal of a testing agency of national capacity like Underwriter’s Laboratories.
- Ensure that all your gas appliances have proper venting. The vent pipes that are horizontal for appliances, like a water heater, should have an upward incline as they pass outdoors. This will prevent the CO from leaking in case the pipes and joints are not tightly fitted.
- The chimney should be cleaned and inspected every year. Debris can block chimneys, and cause CO to build up in your home.
- The vent pipe should never be repaired with gum, tape, or other random things. These patches can cause CO to build up in your chamber, cabin, or home.
- Charcoal should never be burnt indoors. If you burn black, red, white, or grey charcoal, it will emit CO.
- A portable camp stove running on gas should never be used in an indoor setting because it will cause CO build-up in your cabin, camper, or home.
- A generator should never be used inside your garage, basement, or home or even less than 20 feet away from a door, window, or vent.
- If you use a generator, always employ a battery backup CO detector in your home for good measure.
How to avoid CO poisoning in trucks or cars?
- A car mechanic needs to inspect the exhaust mechanism of your truck or car every year. Even if there is a minute leakage in the exhaust, it will lead to CO build-up in your vehicle.
- Do not start or run your truck or car while it is inside a garage that is attached to a house, even if you have the garage door wide open. If you have to run your vehicle in the garage, open the door so that fresh air can come in.
- If your SUV or car has a tailgate, at the time of opening the tailgate, also open the vents and windows to ensure that fresh air is moving through the vehicle. If only the tailgate is opened, the CO coming from the exhaust will get sucked in into the SUV or car.