Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that kills hundreds of people each year and injures many more. It is often referred to as the silent killer; it has no odour or taste and cannot be seen. Like oxygen, CO enters the body through the lungs during the normal breathing process. It competes with oxygen by replacing it in the red blood cells, thereby reducing the flow of oxygen to the heart, brain and other vital organs. In high concentrations, CO can kill in minutes. Many cases of reported carbon monoxide poisoning indicate that while victims are aware they are not feeling well, they become disorientated and unable to save themselves by either exiting the building or calling for assistance. Exposure during sleep is particularly dangerous because the victim usually does not wake up.
Symptoms of CO poisoning
The following symptoms may be related to CO poisoning which all household members should be made aware of:
- Mild Exposure: Slight headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue (often described as ‘flulike’ symptoms)
- Medium Exposure: Severe throbbing headache, drowsiness, confusion, fast heart rate
- Extreme Exposure: Unconsciousness, convulsions, cardiorespiratory failure, death
A CO detector monitors the level of CO as parts per million (ppm) in the atmosphere surrounding the detector.
35ppm The maximum allowable concentration for continuous exposure for healthy adults in any 8 hour period, as recommended by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
200ppm Slight headache, fatigue, dizziness, nausea after 2 – 3 hours.
400ppm Frontal headaches within 1 – 2 hours, life threatening after 3 hours.
800ppm Dizziness, nausea and convulsions within 45 minutes. Unconsciousness within 2 hours. Death within 2 – 3 hours.
Should you suspect CO may be affecting you or your family, open the doors and windows of your property to ventilate, turn off your appliances and evacuate the premises. At this time the authorities should be contacted to locate the source of the carbon monoxide before re-entering the building. Medical attention should be sought for anyone suffering the effects of CO poisoning.
Common sources of CO:
- Oil and gas boilers
- Portable generators
- Oil or solid fuel cookers
- Gas or paraffin heaters
- Clogged chimneys
- Gas, wood, coal or coke fireplaces
- Cigarette smoke
- Gas appliances
- Any fossil fuel burning appliance
It is relatively inexpensive to have a CO alarm fitted in your home, so don’t hesitate to call us today to arrange for one of our engineers to visit your home.
Keep your family safe!
Written by ‘The Girl in the Office’