Each year, 300 people will lose their life to carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is also known as the “silent killer”. It is odorless, tasteless, and you can’t “tell” if you have carbon monoxide in your home unless you own a special carbon monoxide detector.
Carbon monoxide is produced by burning any type of fuel. Most common sources of carbon monoxide in the home are:
- oil furnace
- gas furnaces
- gas water heaters
- gas ranges and
- gas ovens
- gas dryers
- gas or kerosene space heaters
- using charcoal indoors
- wood stoves
- Vehicles left running in a garage
For your family’s safety, you should have your heating appliances inspected by a trained or certified professional at the beginning of every heating season. Make certain that the flues and chimneys are connected, in good condition, and not blocked.
The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are often confused with the flu or food poisoning, another reason why it is important to have a working carbon monoxide detector.
At moderate levels of carbon monoxide in your home, you or your family can get severe headaches, dizzy spells, mentally confused, nauseated, or faint. Even at moderate levels, you can die if exposed to these levels over a period of time. Low levels can cause shortness of breath, mild nausea, and mild headaches. There could also be long term health effects from carbon monoxide exposure.
If you suspect you make have carbon monoxide poisoning, get fresh air immediately. Open your doors and windows if it takes you a minute to gather up the kids, and leave the house immediately. Do not return until all possible causes of the carbon monoxide poisoning have been checked by a trained professional.
Go to the emergency room at your local hospital, and tell them (and the admissions nurse) that you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide build up remains in your system even after you are no longer exposed, and you can still die even if you are out in the fresh air, so it is absolutely imperative to seek treatment for all cases where carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected.