One child dead and others hospitalized after carbon monoxide found at indoor heated pool…
Family cat warns family of leaking carbon monoxide…
Two found dead after oven left on…
How can these sad outcomes be prevented? Carbon Monoxide poisoning is indeed a silent killer. It’s odorless and invisible. But, it can be detected before illness or death occur, if alarms are installed in the proper places, or heating equipment is properly maintained.
What Surveys Reveal
Sixty-six percent of those interviewed regarding CO² did not know how to recognize symptoms of CO² poisoning!
- Flu-like Symptoms
- Symptoms less severe when away from home, but return when you get back
- Others in your household experiencing similar symptoms (including pets)
What can cause CO² Poisoning?
Clothes dryers are one source of carbon monoxide exposure. The fireplace is another potential hazard. Any combustible appliance, such as home heating equipment, can emit toxic CO², and it rises with warmer air. Another source is the swimming pool heating boilers. They create problems in enclosed areas if not monitored.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention describes carbon monoxide as a leading cause of unintentional poisoning deaths in the U.S. This has led to approximately 15,000 emergency room visits and nearly 500 deaths annually. In an eight year span, 68,000 cases of non-fatal Nevertheless harmful, carbon monoxide exposures were reported to poison centers.
Recognizing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Symptoms
Here are a few visual warning signs you may become aware of:
- Pilot lights on stoves or furnace frequently blow out.
- Increased condensation found inside windows.
- Instead of blue flames, appliances display yellow or orange flames.
Exposure of 100 ppm or greater can be dangerous. Higher degrees lead to significant damage to the central nervous system, heart and ultimate death. Long-term low-rate exposures affect an unborn fetus, and cause depression, confusion and memory loss in most people.
This can happen when people suffer low-level exposure due to the fact that the CO Alarm was set for a higher concentration. The low-level rate and the amount of time inhaling the carbon monoxide determine the amount of brain damage caused.
Don’t Ignore the Need for Detectors
In some cases, interviews revealed that 34% of homeowners weren’t even sure if they had a carbon monoxide detector in their homes!
Where is the best place in your home to install a carbon monoxide detector? For one detector, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends it be located near your sleeping area. Place more than one unit on every level and near or in every bedroom of a home. Do not install units directly above or beside fuel-burning appliances.
Today we have mandatory requirements for carbon monoxide alarms. For example, Section R315.1 reads: …for new construction, every one-family dwelling unit, two-family dwelling unit, and each townhouse dwelling unit shall have an approved and operational carbon monoxide alarm installed when one of the following occur:
1. Fuel-fired appliances are installed; or
2. Have attached garages.
Installation: Carbon Monoxide alarms shall be installed outside and not more than 10 feet (3048 mm) M from each separate sleeping area or bedroom. Alarms shall be installed on each level containing sleeping areas or bedrooms.
There is also a code, R315.2 specifically for existing housing and buildings.
An adequate number and carefully placed amount of CO² Detectors is vital in any home or business.
Run a test on your detectors to be sure they are in working order. Manufacturers often will give recommendations on how often to change the batteries. A rule of thumb is don’t wait longer than once every year.
One of the mistakes many people make is to ignore the alarm, thinking the unit is malfunctioning. Never ignore an alarm. Take action and call your utility company or 911 for help. Then evacuate everyone, including pets. Those who arrive to assist have special CO meters to test the air in all areas of your home and let you know if it is safe to re-enter.
A carbon monoxide detector should be replaced every few years, but see your unit instructions for information.
CO Poisoning can Leave you With Permanent Health Problems
Ramona Hopkins, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University tells us:
CO poisoning is very common…people are not aware of how serious CO poisoning can be. Almost everyone we see who’s been exposed to CO is surprised to find out that it could be this devastating. Victims of CO poisoning may suffer from brain damage resulting in memory loss and other cognitive impairments.”
What can be Done to Treat CO² Poisoning?
Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) is a specialized medical treatment in which the patient breathes 100 percent oxygen while inside a chamber set at increased atmospheric pressure.
Hennepin County Medical (HCMC) has been providing hyperbaric oxygen for patient care and research continuously since 1964. HCMC is one of a very small number of institutions in the US providing 24/7 availability of hyperbaric oxygen for emergency patients.
Along with treating a multitude of other medical conditions, these are vital in helping patients suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.
The Best Prevention?
Get your HVAC system inspected and tuned-up at home, or at your place of business! This is number one!
Do you get regular furnace tune-ups? An inspection by a HVAC technician helps identify and repair a potential leak before it becomes serious.
Carbon Monoxide emissions don’t always occur in older furnaces. Even a new system can emit deadly gas if it isn’t installed correctly.
When was the last time you had a HVAC system inspection and tune-up? This is something we at ABEL can provide.
For more information or to schedule a tune-up, give us a call at 952-472-COOL (2665) or Contact Us