As we enter the Fall and Winter months, many of us will begin to use our heater which hasn’t been turned on since this time last year. Like most Americans, we fail to get our heaters checked and assume they will work perfectly, just as they did last year. Unfortunately for us, failure to do so could result in serious injury or death due to Carbon monoxide.
First, what is Carbon Monoxide? Carbon monoxide is a toxic, colorless, odorless, tasteless and initially non-irritating gas that is very difficult to detect, and causes thousands of deaths each year in the United States. Breathing in carbon monoxide is very dangerous. It is the leading cause of poisoning deaths in the United States. Carbon monoxide is the product of incomplete combustion of organic matter due to the lack of Oxygen in the combustion process. Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs after an individual inhales a certain amount of carbon monoxide.
Unfortunately, due to the gas being very difficult to detect, it often goes unnoticed. Victims of carbon monoxide poisoning often don’t know they are suffering from it due to the fact that they are suffering from flu-like symptoms. These symptoms go as follows: headaches and dizziness, nausea, body aches, fatigue, tightness across the chest and drowsiness. Having prolonged exposures to carbon monoxide are very dangerous and with that comes even worse symptoms. These symptoms are vomiting, confusion, collapse, loss of consciousness, muscle weakness, and death.
There are many things inside and out that can produce carbon monoxide. A few things for example: cigarette smoke, house fires, cracks in your heat exchanger and gas lines, wood-burning stoves, vehicle exhaust, electrical generators, propane-fueled equipment, like portable stoves and gas powered tools. Though, these portable devices are typically not bad for you when used outside in an open area. These things should not harm you unless you have been inhaling the carbon monoxide for an extended period of time.
Carbon monoxide is measured in ppm or Parts Per Million. There are numerous levels of carbon monoxide that are dangerous to your health. Carbon monoxide poisoning begins at about 100 PPM. Below is a table that shows the different levels of carbon monoxide.