The presence of carbon monoxide (CO) in our homes is dangerous. So, how can you protect your family from carbon monoxide? How do you choose the right CO detector for your home? The first step is to make sure that carbon monoxide never enters your home. The second step is to install at least one CO detector in your home.
What is carbon monoxide? Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous, colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas. Although it has no detectable odor, CO is often mixed with other gases that do have an odor. So, you can inhale carbon monoxide right along with gases that you can smell and not even know that CO is present. Even at low levels of exposure, carbon monoxide can cause serious health problems. CO is harmful because it will rapidly accumulate in the blood, depleting the ability of blood to carry oxygen. Large amounts of CO can overcome you in minutes without warning—causing you to lose consciousness and suffocate.
Where does carbon monoxide come from? Carbon monoxide is a common byproduct of the combustion (burning) of fossil fuels. Most fuel-burning equipment (natural gas, propane and oil), if properly installed and maintained, produces little CO. The byproducts of combustion are usually safely vented to the outside. However, if anything disrupts the venting process (such as a bird’s nest in the chimney) or results in a shortage of oxygen to the burner, CO production can quickly rise to dangerous levels. The burning of wood, kerosene, coal and charcoal produces CO. Gasoline engines produce CO. CO production is at a maximum during the startup of a cold engine. Starting, then idling, your car or gas mower in the garage can be dangerous. The fumes that contain CO can enter a home through connecting walls or doorways and can quickly rise to dangerous levels.
What should you do if you’re CO alarm goes off? Do not ignore the CO detector’s alarm if it sounds. Treat each alarm as serious and respond accordingly. CO detectors are designed to sound an alarm before a healthy adult would feel any symptoms.
What are the signs of CO poisoning? Besides tightness across the chest, initial symptoms of CO poisoning may include headache, fatigue, dizziness, drowsiness, or nausea. Sudden chest pain may occur in people with angina. During prolonged or high exposures, symptoms may worsen and include vomiting, confusion, and collapse in addition to loss of consciousness and muscle weakness. Symptoms vary widely from person to person. CO poisoning may occur sooner in those most susceptible: young children, elderly people, people with lung or heart disease, people at high altitudes, or those who already have elevated CO blood levels, such as smokers. Also, CO poisoning poses a special risk to fetuses.
Petitbon Alarm can install an integrated carbon monoxide monitoring system in your home. Our systems are designed to notify the occupants of the home and to send a signal to our monitoring station so that we can alert you if there is a problem in your absence.