Protect Family And Home From Carbon Monoxide

With the recent and tragic loss of a Galena, Ohio, family, many are seeking more information on carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, what it is, and how tragedy can be prevented.

Sadly, many people do not fully understand the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning.  Carbon monoxide has been called the “Invisible Killer” as it cannot be seen or smelled and is usually undetected until it is too late.  With this in mind, it is important to understand how it can get in the home, how it can be detected, and what to do before you ever suspect carbon monoxide in your home. 

Carbon monoxide is created when fuel is being burned.  “Fuel” is a broad term, it can be wood, natural or propane gas, diesel or regular gas, cigarette smoke, etc.  Really, if something is burning, carbon monoxide will be present at some level.  In homes today, common sources of burning are gas range appliance, gas water heaters, gas space heaters, generators, and wood or gas burning fireplaces.  Before you call the refuse company and order bulk pick-up on standard household appliances and succumb to a life without hot water, heat, or a basic stove, please understand that well-maintained, properly functioning appliances are rarely cause for concern.  Read on to determine if there is cause for concern and more information on what to do if you suspect carbon monoxide gas in your home. 

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can vary based on the amount of exposure to the gas, the duration of exposure, the size of the person or animal exposed, the amount of ventilation, and various other details.  However, according to the Mayo Clinic symptoms of carbon monoxide may include:

  • Dull headache
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of consciousness

Unfortunately, depending again on the amount of CO gas present and whether inhabitants are awake or asleep, symptoms may not be noticed prior to loss of consciousness.  If more than one person or family member (including pets) is in the home with similar symptoms, the possibility of carbon monoxide exposure should not be dismissed as the flu or other illness.  There may also be cause for concern if symptoms appear when at home and lessen or subside while outside of the home. 

A leak in a systems exhaust may result in prolonged low-level exposure to carbon monoxide.  These symptoms may be confused with other health concerns and may include:

  • Tiredness, weakness
  • Pains, cramps
  • Headaches
  • Nausea, sickness
  • Loss of concentration
  • Dizziness
  • Digestive problems
  • Cardiac problems
  • Flu symptoms
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pins and needles, stiffness
  • Vision problems
  • Memory loss
  • Personality, emotional problems
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Mouth/throat problems
  • Unable to walk / work
  • Clumsiness
  • Hallucinations, zombie-like state
  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Loss of hearing
  • Trembling

The best way to ensure the safety of your family is to proactively install a carbon monoxide detector, which can be purchased at a local hardware store or online. The detector should sound an alarm if it detects carbon monoxide.  Next, always have your furnace and other gas or wood burning appliances and fireplace cleaned and serviced prior to the winter season.  Carbon monoxide issues will often only appear in the winter months when the house is closed-up for the season and the “heating” appliances are running.  Never use the stove to heat your home.  And ALWAYS get your family out of the home immediately if there is any suspicion of a carbon monoxide leak or poisoning, a little exposure can be fatal.  Call the fire department for assistance from a safe place. 

 

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