Winter is the most susceptible time for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless and toxic gas. Because of its elusive nature, people are often poisoned before they’re even aware of it. Unborn babies, children, the elderly, and people with respiratory problems and/or heart disease are especially sensitive to carbon monoxide. Even at low levels, carbon monoxide causes serious health problems, and the longer the exposure, the more damage that occurs.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates several thousand people are taken to the emergency room each year for CO poisoning. The National Center for Healthy Housing has found that each year, more than 200 Americans accidentally die from carbon monoxide poisoning in the home, unrelated to fires and engine exhaust.
- 84% are from gas water heaters. Many victims of carbon monoxide poisoning die in their sleep
- 76% percent of these deaths are from carbon monoxide released from gas furnaces
- 10,200 people visit the emergency room due to accidental carbon monoxide poisoning from consumer products
There are only two ways for a resident to detect carbon monoxide. The most common way is through the use of CO detectors. The best way can be through a yearly furnace maintenance appointment that includes a heat exchanger inspection, which is what releases the CO if there is a crack.
Our technicians are all certified by the Heat Exchanger Experts to conduct specialized heat exchanger inspections; a rarity in our industry! If a crack is found, our technicians use a gauge to measure the amount of CO in the air and are then required to shut the gas off until a new furnace can be installed.
If your CO detector goes off, ensure the batteries and the detector itself are not out of service life, then if needed, call Star City Heating & Cooling for a CO detection. If you have any symptoms of CO Poisoning go outside, call 911, and monitor yourself and others. Don’t endanger yourself by trying to find the source of the gas; leave that to the emergency personnel.
Low-Level Exposure Symptoms For some, symptoms may go unnoticed until CO levels are at least 70 parts per million (ppm) in their blood stream. But, a person’s vulnerability (age, health, immunity) influences the level of tolerance, and poisoning begins at any level. Symptoms mimic the flu and may make victims feel tired, dizzy, or short of breath. Treatment may require some oxygen.
High-Level Exposure Symptoms High level exposure (more than 35 ppm; less than 70 ppm) can cause severe headaches, drowsiness, confusion, fast heart rate, loss of muscle coordination, vomiting, and/or loss of consciousness. High levels of exposure can also cause visual impairment, reduced work capacity, poor learning ability, and difficulty in performing complex tasks. Treatment will call for oxygen therapy or the use of a hyperbolic chamber.
Long Term Exposure
When CO is in the air, your body replaces the oxygen in your red blood cells with CO. This build-up can cause brain, heart, and organ damage. Worst case is death; which most often happens while the victim is asleep.
Keep Combustible Fuel Away
Fireplaces, propane or charcoal grills, kerosene heaters, vehicles, lawnmowers, and generators should be kept away from doors and windows, and ran in clear open spaces.
There are various levels of carbon monoxide levels allowed before an alarm is sounded. The most commonly sold detectors give alerts after levels of 30 ppm are detected for 30 days or 70 ppm levels are detected between 1-4 hours of exposure.
- Know the cause and symptoms
- Ensure every CO detector is properly installed and placed
- Remember to change the batteries twice a year
- Call Star City Heating & Cooling for a maintenance appointment to ensure your gas furnace is safe and ready to use for the winter.