Tuesday July 16, 2019
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Carbon Monoxide Awareness

The Broad Brook Fire Department would like to remind everyone to be aware of the dangers of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning as the weather gets colder and we close up our homes and use alternative heating sources.  Everyone should try and invest in CO Detectors for their homes and call should one sound and alert you to a possible problem.

Below are some simple facts about CO poisoning as well as some symptoms you may have to alert you of a possible problem if you do not have a CO detector in your home.

As always please do not hesitate to call us at any time if you think there may be a CO problem in your home.  It is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to CO.  As you will read below it is colorless and odorless poison, and if gone undetected it could be fatal.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Symptoms

Because carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless it is not always evident when it has become a problem in the home. Often people who have a mild to moderate problem will find they feel sick while they spend time at home. They might feel a little better outside in the fresh air but will have re-occurring symptoms shortly after returning home. If other members of the family have re-occurring bouts with flu-like symptoms while fuel-burning appliances are being used it may be time to have the house checked by a professional.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Besides having a professional come into your home to check your appliances a carbon monoxide detector can be used to keep a constant watch over the levels of carbon monoxide in the home throughout the year.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Low levels of carbon monoxide poisoning can be confused with flu symptoms, food poisoning or other illnesses and can have a long term health risk if left unattended. Some of the symptoms are the following.

  • Shortness of breath
  • Mild nausea
  • Mild headaches

Moderate levels of CO exposure can cause death if the following symptoms persist for a long measure of time.

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Light-headedness

High levels of CO can be fatal causing death within minutes.

Treatment Options
There are immediate measures you can take to help those suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.

  • Call 911 immediately and let them know there may be a carbon monoxide problem.
  • It is very important not to become a victim of CO Poisoning yourself. It is best you wait for Emergency Service personnel (Fire, Police, EMS), to arrive on scene and do their job. They have the proper tools, meters, and SCBA to handle these dangerous situations.
  • However if you can, try to talk and guide the victims outside into fresh air immediately.
  • If you can't get the people out of the house, then try to open all windows and doors from the outside only. It is important to remember that extremely high readings of CO can and will cause unconsciousness and death within a few minutes.

A Guide to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

stoveCarbon monoxide (CO) poisoning can happen within a matter of minutes and is responsible for more deaths than any other single poison. This odorless, colorless poison can hurt you slowly in low levels, cause permanent neurological dysfunctions in moderate levels or take lives in higher levels. Protection against this deadly poison is as easy as installing a simple carbon monoxide detector in your home or office.

CO emissions are produced whenever fuels such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood or charcoal is burned. The amount of CO produced while using fuel-burning appliances is usually not harmful. It becomes hazardous when appliances are used improperly or are not functioning adequately.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious threat that people need to get informed about. By educating ourselves on the dangers of CO we can significantly reduce the health risk as well as save lives. Although everyone needs to be aware of the dangers, some people are more susceptible than others. The following are more susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning.

  • Fetuses
  • Infants
  • Elderly People
  • Those who suffer from anaemia, respiratory or heart disease

Precautionary Measures
Routinely at the beginning of every heating season home owners should have their fuel burning appliances checked by a qualified technician. Appliances deteriorate with time and can be a health risk to those who live in the home.

Besides having your appliances inspected, those using fuel-burning appliances should have their homes equipped with carbon monoxide detectors to provide added peace of mind. Appliances can break down any time of year so it is important to have a back-up system in place to keep you informed when CO levels increase. A CO detector should be placed on every floor in the home to provide the best protection. Also knowing which carbon monoxide detectors to choose and knowing how CO detectors work can help maximize security

Health Risks
Low levels of carbon monoxide poisoning can be confused with other illness symptoms and can often go undetected. Carbon monoxide poisoning can result in long term health problems if not treated promptly. Symptoms such as nausea, headaches and light-headedness should be checked by a physician especially when more than one person in the home is showing symptoms.

Carbon Monoxide Sources in the Home

The most common carbon monoxide sources in the typical household are the following:

  • Furnace (natural gas, propane, oil, wood)
  • Fireplace (gas, wood, coal)
  • Stove (gas, wood)
  • Barbeque (gas, charcoal)
  • Garden Tools (gasoline/petrol)
  • Generators (gasoline, diesel, propane)

In the majority of cases, proper ventilation of buildings, or areas containing a by-product of combustion, is required. Should ventilation be interrupted or halted for a certain period of time, the levels of carbon monoxide can increase and cause potential hazards.

fireplaceOther Carbon Monoxide Sources
All vehicles, cars, trucks, vans, RV's, campers, buses, boats and planes, powered by gasoline/petrol, diesel, natural gas and propane, are a recognized source of carbon monoxide.

Many industrial processes produce certain amounts of carbon monoxide, as does everyday cigarette smoke.

Carbon Monoxide Facts
In 2007, the American Association of Poison Control Centers reported 15,769 cases of carbon monoxide poisoning which resulted in 39 deaths. Many of these incidents were associated with non-automotive products such as the malfunctioning of fuel-burning appliances, engine-powered equipment, and the use of charcoal.

Although control measures for carbon monoxide emission from motor vehicles are in effect, the number of cars and trucks on the road has increased over the years, causing on-going environmental concerns. Approximately three-quarters of emissions in the United States come from motor vehicles (around 56%), which includes cars and trucks, and non-road vehicles such as boats and construction equipment (around 22%).

Carbon monoxide is toxic to both humans and animals. It is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that is lighter than air. Due to these characteristics, it is difficult to detect its presence. Hence, it is recommended that, along with smoke detectors, homeowners invest in carbon monoxide detectors.

 

 

Preventative Measures

Preventative measures that can provide safety for ourselves and our families have reduced the number carbon monoxide poisoning victims.

There are some very simple ways to ensure that you and your family will not suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning. Having a carbon monoxide detector installed in your home is the most effective way to keep a watch on the levels of CO in your home. Other precautions that can be taken are listed below.

  • Have flues and chimneys checked for security and blockages.
  • At the beginning of every heating season have a trained professional check all your fuel-burning appliances such as oil and gas furnaces, gas water heaters, gas ranges and ovens, gas dryers, gas or kerosene space heaters, fire places and wood stoves.
  • Install and maintain appliances according to the manufacturers' instructions.
  • Never idle the car in the garage whether or not the door of the garage is opened or closed; fumes can build up quickly and contaminate the air in the garage and living area of your home.
  • Never use a gas oven to heat your home, even for a short time.
  • Never use a charcoal grill indoors.
  • Never sleep in a room heated by a gas or kerosene space heater that does not have proper venting.
  • Do not use any gasoline-powered engines such as mowers, weed trimmers, snow blowers, chain saws, small engines or generators in enclosed spaces.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector in your recreational vehicle, camper, or motor home.
  • Make a point of actually installing your carbon monoxide detector and not leave it hanging around in your tool boxes or on workbenches.
  • Never use a portable generator indoors. When portable generators are placed in areas such as garages, sheds, or small enclosed spaces, the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning multiplies threefold.

 

Carbon Monoxide Levels - How Much is too Much?

  • At what level does carbon monoxide become toxic?
    For healthy adults, CO becomes toxic when it reaches a level higher than 50 ppm (parts per million) with continuous exposure over an eight hour period.. When the level of CO becomes higher than that, a person will suffer from symptoms of exposure. Mild exposure over a few hours (a CO level between 70 ppm and 100 ppm) include flu-like symptoms such as headaches, sore eyes and a runny nose. Medium exposure (a CO level between 150 ppm to 300 ppm) will produce dizziness, drowsiness and vomiting. Extreme exposure (a CO level of 400 ppm and higher) will result in unconsciousness, brain damage and death.

 

  • How to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning
    - have a qualified technician install and regularly inspect all fuel burning appliances
    - regularly inspect fireplaces and chimneys to insure proper ventilation
    - never use a gas or charcoal barbeque indoors
    - never start a car or gas run lawnmower or snow blower in a closed garage.
    - install a carbon monoxide detector in your home.

 

FAQ's

If I have my fuel-burning appliances checked yearly, do I still need to install a CO detector?
Absolutely, a CO detector will sound if there are any breakdowns in the appliances used in the home. Appliances experience wear and tear and can cause serious health problems including death for some who suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Am I at risk for obtaining carbon monoxide poisoning if I do not use gas appliances in my home?
All appliances that use fossil fuels, Oil, Natural gas, Coal and LPG are equally as dangerous as gas burning appliances.

What are the symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
At low levels many people will experience mild nausea and a mild headache. Moderate levels will strengthen symptoms along with light headedness and other flu-like symptoms. At high levels death or the risk of neurological disorders occurs.

What type of carbon monoxide detector should I use?
The best type of carbon monoxide detector is one that has a low level indicator. This will help in the prevention of any health risks.

How many carbon monoxide detectors should I have and where should they be placed in the home?
The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that a CO detector be placed on each floor of a residence. They should be placed near the ceiling and within five feet of gas fuelled appliances or near cooking or bathing areas.