Carbon Monoxide Safety
Carbon Monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is the by-product of combustion. Fossil fuels such as natural gas, propane, gasoline, oil, wood, kerosene, and charcoal are the only producers of this dangerous gas. Electrical appliances, including electric heaters will not produce Carbon Monoxide.
Carbon Monoxide affects the body by entering the bloodstream through the normal breathing process. The dangerous characteristic of CO (Carbon Monoxide) is that it has a greater ability to bond itself to the blood than oxygen has. In essence, if CO is inhaled, it will displace oxygen and this could lead to oxygen starvation by the body’s cells and eventual asphyxiation. An additional danger to be aware of is CO’s ability to remain in the bloodstream for extended periods of time, sometimes hours, allowing CO to add to itself over a period of time reaching unhealthy levels in the body after many hours.
Some common sign of CO buildup are: The formation of condensation on a large number of windows inside the house, and dying houseplants. Some symptoms of CO poisoning include are flu-like such as headache, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, shortness of breath, and unconsciousness in later stages. If such symptoms exist in only one member of the household, a CO problem usually does not exist.
If you own a CO detector that measures CO presence in the atmosphere, the following levels should be understood: (Levels are read in p.p.m. or Parts Per Million)
NOTE: 10,000 p.p.m. = 1% CO in the air.
|9 p.p.m. or less
|Normal acceptable levels in a residence
|35 p.p.m. or less
|Normal acceptable levels in a commercial building
|Dangerous Level - ventilate building, turn off appliances, call for assistance and evacuate building
|201 p.p.m. or greater
|Potentially lethal levels, evacuate building immediately!
CO detectors are designed to sound their alarm before a hazardous condition exists. Also, when installing a CO detector, place it at least five (5) feet away from fuel consuming appliances. This is because some appliances will emit CO in excess of 200 p.p.m. during start-up – this condition is NORMAL and ACCEPTABLE. The CO will dissipate and drop to a normal level within a few minutes for an appliance that is operating properly.
IF YOUR CO DETECTOR SOUNDS THE AUDIBLE ALARM OR YOU EXPERIENCE ANY OF THE ABOVE MENTIONED CONDITIONS, CALL FOR ASSISTANCE. RESPONSE CAN BE OBTAINED FROM THE FIRE DEPARTMENT (DIAL 9-1-1) OR YOUR GAS UTILITY.
It is also important during colder weather to occasionally allow in fresh air. Energy efficiency has created almost airtight living spaces. With an understanding of this gas and a calm response, if required, the safety of you and others will be assured.