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  • Writer's pictureJoyce Insurance

Causes of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning and to Prevent It

Carbon monoxide does not benefit human health in any way. It is poisonous and can worsen existing health conditions. Read on to learn more about it and how you can prevent it.

What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a tasteless, odorless, and colorless gas that results from burning fuels like charcoal, propane, wood, or gasoline.

It’s usually a result of fuel combustion in poorly ventilated fuel engines, especially in enclosed spaces, with the gas accumulation exceeding reasonable limits.

Carbon monoxide is a highly toxic gas. If you suspect a case of poisoning, you should seek immediate medical care.

How can you identify a buildup of the gas?

CO (carbon monoxide) is odorless. Hence it may be hard to identify scenarios with a gas buildup. However, there are some tell-tale signs to look out for:

  • Yellowish burner flames

  • Lack of chimney flue upward draft

  • Missing furnace panels

  • Reduced hot water supply

  • Stale air

How do I know if there's CO poisoning?

If you’re intoxicated or asleep, you’re at double the risk of extreme damage from CO poisoning. You may die or develop permanent brain damage before help comes.

CO poisoning speed and severity depend on just how much buildup of this toxic gas there is in your home.

For instance, exposure to a low carbon monoxide concentration of about 45 parts per million (PPM) for about eight hours can leave you without any symptoms. On the other hand, if you’re exposed to the gas continuously, even at this low concentration, you are at serious health risk.

With higher concentrations, such as about 13,000 PPM, you can go unconscious or even die in less than 5 minutes of exposure.

Some common symptoms of CO poisoning include the following:

  • Weakness

  • Chest pain

  • Dizziness

  • Upset stomach

  • Vomiting

  • Disorientation

  • Unconsciousness

  • Inability to breathe properly

  • Symptom relief when away from the source of the gas buildup

  • Ill pets

You should note that CO poisoning may seem like a cold or the flu. If you test for these and come back negative, then it’s likely that you’re feeling the symptoms due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

How can I prevent carbon monoxide poisoning?

You cannot be too careful with CO as the health risk is great. You may have long-lasting, irreversible organ damage after prolonged exposure to the gas. To prevent cases of poisoning:

Carry out maintenance for your equipment

Ensure that your fuel-powered appliances are inspected by qualified professionals annually. The same applies to new equipment- ensure the pros install them.

In addition, your flues and chimneys should not be exempt from annual inspection.

Some instances of CO poisoning can result from outdoor equipment, with the gas filtering into the house. If you have an attached garage, eliminate fuel-powered equipment from the space before starting them up. If there is any equipment that needs replacing, do so quickly.

Also, don’t forget to check your car’s exhaust system and inspect it for leaks.

Install a carbon monoxide detector

These installations are fantastic to have in your home and are the ultimate CO poisoning preventive measure. You can place the near attached garages or sleeping areas far away from the house's high-humidity sections, the kitchen, and the bathrooms.

Health is important. While you’re encouraged to take preventive measures against toxic gases like CO, having the right insurance policy in place is ideal to protect your life and property. Contact us today to find the right policy for your needs.

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