Carbon Monoxide: The Silent Killer

Carbon Monoxide, or CO, forms when there is not enough oxygen to produce carbon dioxide (CO2). An examples of this is when an internal combustion engine is operated in an enclosed space, like a garage. It is also emitted from stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, and sometimes furnaces. CO can build up indoors, and it can kill you.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas. However, its presence can be detected by its deleterious effects on the human body. Symptoms of CO intake include headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and even confusion.

Usually, if you are conscious and exposed to CO, it will be obvious, and detectable. The danger is when people stumble upon CO while severely intoxicated, they may pass out and be unaware their death is hanging in the air. Infants, with their limited mental capacities, could stumble upon gas and become confused and helpless.

Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in the Home

Every homeowner should install a carbon monoxide detector and regularly check the batteries to ensure proper function. Sensors will trigger an alarm and residents will remain safe from harm.

Other preventive measures include:

• Regular service of your heating system, water heater, or other coal burning appliance by a qualified professional.

• Purchase only equipment with a seal indicating the approval of a national testing agency.

• Keeping your chimney clean can help eliminate the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning. Chimneys can be blocked by debris, which can cause CO to build up inside your home or cabin.