Carbon monoxide (CO) is a silent killer that you may not be aware of in your own home. It is a colorless, odorless gas that can be produced from common household items. It is important to know where it comes from and how to avoid a buildup in your home.
Carbon monoxide is produced when you burn gasoline or other vehicle fuel in cars, trucks, generators, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ovens or stoves, or furnaces. It can build up inside closed rooms indoors and poison anyone who breathes it in including animals.
Carbon Monoxide in the Workplace
There are many sources of carbon monoxide in the workplace as well. Warehouses are common producers of CO from propane-powered forklifts, space heaters, gas-powered concrete cutters, floor polishers, air compressors and pressure washers. Operating these machines outdoors is relatively harmless because the carbon monoxide can dissipate in the open air, if operated indoors they are poisonous. Proper ventilation is required for indoor use.
Carbon Monoxide Myths
- Carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO2). CO2 is used in many household items including carbonated beverages and is the gas that humans breathe out.
- CO poisoning is caused by lack of ventilation or air movement, not by faulty machines or devices. For example if your gas stove is operating properly but the exhaust pipe is blocked, CO will vent improperly into your home and potentially kill you.
- While most people believe that CO poisoning is a small problem–in fact–it is the main cause of death from poison in the United States causing up to 50 deaths every year.
Symptoms of Carbon Dioxide Poisoning
Since carbon dioxide poisoning can act quickly, seek professional medical help immediately if you or someone you know has the following symptoms.
- Upset Stomach
- Chest Pain
- Flu-like Symptoms
These symptoms are not always from CO poisoning, however CO poisoning can cause any or all of these symptoms. Breathing in a lot of CO will eventually cause you to pass out and then die. If someone is already sleeping, they can die from carbon monoxide exposure without ever awakening.
Risk Factors from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Anyone in modern society is at risk from CO poisoning. Since we typically use at least one of the sources of CO in our homes regularly, we are exposed to the gas daily. People who are more vulnerable to all diseases or health risks are even more susceptible including the following:
- Patients with chronic heart disease
- Patients with anemia
- People with breathing issues
In the United States, more than 20,000 a year visit hospital emergency rooms due to carbon monoxide poisoning. From those, 4000 are hospitalized yearly from this poisoning.
Protecting Yourself against Carbon Monoxide
The CDC has a list of protections that you can use to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in your home. The first protection is to install a battery-operated CO detector in your home. You can see the full list here.
Are you worried about carbon monoxide poisoning in your own home? To learn more about how to protect yourself, call our office for a consultation today.