The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide
The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide
Winter is coming, meaning more time indoors. When windows and doors are sealed against the cold, the chances of carbon monoxide contamination increase. This winter, learn and understand the dangers of carbon monoxide and ways to reduce the risk.
What Is CO?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that is toxic to humans and animals. Therefore the real danger of CO is that it can make you ill, or even kill you, before you even realize that it’s there. Even low levels of carbon monoxide exposure can cause flu-like symptoms including headaches, dizziness, nausea, fatigue and disorientation. The effects of CO poisoning can vary depending on a person’s age, general health, how much they have been exposed to, and for how long.
Where Does CO Come From?
There are many different sources of carbon monoxide in your home: kerosene and gas space heaters that aren’t properly vented, leaking chimneys and furnaces, back draft from a furnace, gas-powered water heaters, wood stove or fireplace, gas stoves and ovens, generators and other gasoline-powered equipment, auto exhaust, and tobacco smoke are all some of the most common sources of carbon monoxide. The best way to prevent exposure would be to get rid of these things. If that’s not possible, read on for tips about reducing the risk of CO poisoning when using these devises.
What Kind of Harm Can CO Cause?
There are numerous negative health effects associated with CO exposure. At low concentration levels, carbon monoxide can cause fatigue in otherwise healthy people and chest pains in people with existing heart conditions. Higher levels of CO can lead to impaired vision, headaches, dizziness, nausea, confusion, diminished coordination, and flu-like symptoms. These issues usually disappear soon after you leave the contaminated area. However, very high CO concentration can be fatal, due to the formation of a toxin in the blood that can block oxygen intake.
How can I Reduce the Risk of CO Poisoning?
The very best way to cut your risk of CO exposure is to remove any gas-powered or combustion equipment (like kerosene heaters and wood stoves) from your home. However, if you must use any of these devices, always be sure to have proper ventilation and follow the manufacturer’s instructions exactly. If you smoke, why not consider quitting this winter, or limit yourself to smoking outside where CO isn’t confined to your home?
Here are a few more helpful tips:
- Keep gasoline-powered appliances properly adjusted for optimum performance.
- Consider replacing an unvented space heater with a safer vented model.
- Only use appropriate fuels for combustion devices like kerosene space heaters and generators.
Install and use an exhaust fan with your gas stove that is vented to the outdoors.
- Keep the flue open when you use your fireplace.
- Choose a wood stove that’s the proper size for your home and one that conforms to EPA emission standards. Be sure any doors or vents are tightly fitted.
- Do not idle your car inside the garage, even if the door is open.
- Hire a professional technician to inspect, clean, and tune your home’s HVAC system at least once a year.
- Never use a generator indoors.
Contact Horizon Services
So, are you ready to install or replace a heater or air conditioner? Our friendly and experienced team of Comfort Specialists knows heating and air conditioning systems inside and out. They’ll take the time to study your home, understand your heating and cooling requirements, show you all of your options and assist you with finding the quality home comfort system that best meets your family’s needs and budget.