Understanding the Risk of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Each year in America, unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning claims more than 500 lives and sends another 15,200 people to the hospital emergency rooms around the country for treatment. These accidents tend to peak during the winter months, but there are several everyday items that can put you and your family at risk, too. Read on for some simple steps you can take to help protect yourself or your customers from deadly carbon monoxide fumes.
What is Carbon Monoxide?
An odorless, colorless and toxic gas, carbon monoxide cannot be seen, tasted or smelled. Since it is often impossible to detect, CO can cause harm or become fatal before you realize it is in your home. When exposed to lower levels of CO, the gas causes mild effects that are often mistaken for the flu, including headaches, dizziness, disorientation,nausea and fatigue.
It's also important to note the effects of CO exposure can vary greatly from person to person depending in age, health, and the concentration and length of exposure.
Where does it come from?
- Gas-fired appliances
- Charcoal grills
- Wood-burning furnaces or fireplaces
Consider installing at least one carbon monoxide alarm with an audible warning signal. The ideal placement for these alarms is near the sleeping areas of your home. Since CO alarms measure CO levels over time, the alarm will sound before an average, healthy adult would be experiencing symptoms. If you are not experiencing symptoms when the alarm sounds, please consider ventilating the home and contacting a service professional to check the CO level. If you are experiencing symptoms of CO poisoning, experts say to evacuate immediately and contact emergency personnel.
If you drive a vehicle with a tailgate or rear hatch and are travelling with he hatch open, make certain to open vents or windows to create adequate airflow. And, of course, never run your vehicle inside your garage with the door closed. Even with doors open, refrain from running your vehicle for extended periods of time, as garages with a door on only one side often do not provide adequate air flow.