Created when fuels such as oil, wood and coal don’t fully burn, carbon monoxide is a gas that’s colorless, odorless, invisible, and deadly.
Also known as “CO,” carbon monoxide is fatal to humans and pets alike, and kills hundreds of Americans each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
But there are ways you can guard against carbon monoxide. Read on to learn more about the effects of CO poisoning, and the Bucks County gas safety systems such as carbon monoxide detectors that can protect you and your loved ones.
Why is carbon monoxide fatal?
CO is poisonous because it keeps our bodies from getting the oxygen we need. When we inhale carbon monoxide, it latches onto hemoglobin, the molecule that oxygenates our blood.
The more CO we take in, the more it attaches to our hemoglobin, keeping oxygen from circulating through our body. This oxygen deprivation results in the symptoms connected to CO poisoning.
What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?
Depending on how long CO has been inhaled, you might experience any of the following:
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of muscle control
- Tightness in the chest
- Fluttering of the heart
- Behavioral effects such as slower reaction times
The early stages of CO poisoning can resemble flu symptoms. But you can rule out the flu if:
- The symptoms appear – or worsen – when someone turns on a fuel-burning device.
- The symptoms appear when you’re in a certain location, and go away when you move away from that location.
- The symptoms affect more than one person at the same time. With the flu, it usually takes a few days for the virus to pass from one person to another.
Where does CO come from?
Most CO poisoning cases happen in the home, typically because of malfunctioning fuel-burning appliances such as faulty water heaters or furnaces or space heaters.
Other cases happen as a result of misuse of a fuel burning appliance, like using a gas stove for heat, or running a grill or a portable generator in an unventilated area. (These devices should only be used outside, and far from the home.)
And while a majority of carbon monoxide-related deaths happen at home, you should take care with your automobile, or while operating a boat.
Your car releases CO through its exhaust. Never allow your car to idle inside a garage or other enclosed structure, and make sure the exhaust pipe isn’t blocked by ice or snow during the winter.
If you own a boat, make sure you know where the engine and exhaust outlets are located, and stay away from the back deck/swim platforms when the engine is running. If you can smell exhaust, you’re breathing in CO.
How can I prevent carbon monoxide poisoning at home?
In addition to installing carbon monoxide detectors and other gas safety systems, Bucks County residents can protect themselves by:
- Have a qualified technician service your heating system, water heater and any other fuel-burning appliance once per year.
- Never use camp stoves, generators, or portable, flameless chemical heaters indoors.
- Make sure all gas appliances have proper ventilation.
- If you smell an odor coming from a gas refrigerator, contact a technician right away, as this could be a sign of a CO leak.
Bucks County Gas Safety Systems from Holicong Security
When they need quality gas safety systems, Bucks County residents turn to Holicong Security. Our technicians are committed to creating safer environments for your home or business. Contact us today to learn more about all our fire and hazardous gas safety systems.