What to Know About Carbon Monoxide Leaks and Detectors
Carbon monoxide (CO) is invisible and gives off no odor. The gas is a byproduct of combustion when carbon molecules don’t completely burn. Coal, propane, fossil fuels, wood, and other flammables can all create CO.
Not only is it hard to detect—it can be deadly. CO poisoning sends 20,000 Americans to the emergency room every year. Around 4,000 people need further hospitalization, and 400 will die.
Understanding the Risks
Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas. It may be the number one lethal poison in industrialized countries, contributing to half of all poisoning deaths. When inhaled, it quickly displaces oxygen from the bloodstream. This prevents the brain, heart, and other vital organs from functioning.
However, its lethality depends on two factors: concentration and duration. Smaller amounts are less risky than large amounts. The length of exposure also plays a role. Small leaks are more common in home settings. Residents may notice more gradual symptoms that can be mistaken for illness. If a leak happens in a factory, it’s often larger and deadlier.
Know The Symptoms
The severity of symptoms usually depends on the amount of exposure. People often mistake moderate symptoms for an illness, such as the flu. Severe symptoms are much more pronounced and fast-acting.
Children, the elderly, and those with medical conditions are more at risk for fatal poisoning. People who are asleep or intoxicated are also vulnerable since they may not notice symptoms.
People suffering from CO poisoning may experience moderate symptoms like:
More severe symptoms include:
Any level of airborne CO is unhealthy. Most healthy people won’t notice any symptoms if exposed to 1-70 ppm (parts per million) of CO, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. However, a person with a heart condition may notice chest pains. Levels above 70 ppm give rise to headaches, stomach pains, and fatigue.
After 150 ppm, anyone exposed for too long is at risk of fainting, hallucinations, or death.
Protecting Your Home
While the risks are scary, there is plenty you can do to keep your Tacoma household safe from CO poisoning.
Make sure you correctly place and maintain your carbon monoxide detectors. Install one per floor in your home. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends placing the alarms at least five feet off the floor, not too close to your fireplace or stove. Follow your instruction manual for cleaning procedures, replacing batteries, and testing the alarm.
Be sure you read the instruction manuals on all of your home appliances that use combustion (stoves, furnaces, water heaters). Schedule annual maintenance inspections. You should also be sure to follow proper ventilation practices when using your fireplace and have your chimney cleaned.
Never leave your gas stove running when you’re not using it. Additionally, don’t leave your car running in the garage, even when the door is open.
Schedule A Maintenance Inspection Today
Resicon LLC is pleased to provide critical home safety tips. Our specialists are always available to inspect for risk factors like punctures, obstructions, disconnected lines, or dirt and debris. They will also perform vital cleaning that preserves your equipment and protects indoor air quality. Call our Tacoma, WA, office today at 253-625-7952 or request service online.