The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a gas that is extremely hard to detect. It is tasteless, colorless, and odorless, so there is no way for you to tell that you are breathing it in. There are a number of different ways the gas can enter your home. Depending on the levels, you can have both short term and long term effects, but you should know that if you are exposed to too much of this gas, it can be fatal. You should buy a CO detector and check it to make sure it is always working to avoid any health risks.

Carbon monoxide goes by the nickname the “silent killer,” because most people who are breathing it in don’t even realize that they are, and they often fall into a deep unconsciousness and die.  This gas attacks the oxygen in the body after it enters the lungs. It displaces the oxygen from the bloodstream, which eventually prevents oxygen from reaching the heart and other major organs. Even if you don’t die, this deadly gas can have a long-term negative effect on your health. This type of poisoning can occur in both your home and even in your car.

Improper ventilation of the home is one of the ways that carbon monoxide can enter your home and affect the inhabitants. If you have blockage in the ventilation to your flu pipe, kitchen, or a chimney, you might experience the gas leaking into your home. The incomplete combustion of gas, wood, propane and other natural gases can also cause a problem and be a danger to you and your family. Heaters or furnaces that have improper ventilation pose a risk as well. Gas being released in an enclosed space, such as leaving your car on in a closed garage can be extremely dangerous.

How do you know if you have carbon monoxide poisoning? The levels of this gas are measured in PPM, or parts per million. The higher the level of the “silent killer” in your home and the longer you are exposed, the more severe your symptoms will become. At the beginning stages, you’ll be feeling fatigued, have a headache, and some slight chest pain. If you are exposed to CO for a longer period of time, you’ll feel dizzy and nauseous, and you might even lose some coordination. You will continue to weaken and may even experience convulsions. The last stage of poisoning is falling unconscious.

To prevent carbon monoxide from coming into your home and causing health problems for you and your family, there are a number of steps you can take. The first is to make sure you have us check your heating and cooling systems on a regular basis. You should also have any gas-burning appliances checked to make sure they are working properly. Make sure if you’re burning any type of fuel that there is adequate ventilation in the room or rooms. You should also purchase a CO detector.

T.F. O’Brien services the Long Island, New York area.

Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about preventive maintenance and other HVAC topics, please download our free  Home Comfort Resource guide.

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