Carbon Monoxide CO - a Silent Killer

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    Oct 21, 2013
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Training for On-Site Inspections (4-15 March 2013)
Training for On-Site Inspections (4-15 March 2013)
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Carbon monoxide (CO) is a deadly gas. Over 50 people die each year in the UK from this dangerous, odourless, tasteless, and colourless gas and many others are sickened by exposure. Our senses, which often warn us of danger, are helpless against this lethal gas. Carbon monoxide is found in combustion fumes produced by common things that are used every day, such as small gasoline engines, gas ranges and heaters, stoves, oil lanterns, heating systems, as well as the cars, trucks, and buses used for transportation.

The Risks
When people are in a hurry, they can be careless and take risks, putting themselves and their family in danger of CO poisoning. There are some things that should never be done in any circumstances.

1. Gas burning heaters must be ventilated. Never use an un-vented gas heater in a bedroom or a tightly closed room. The absence of adequate ventilation will cause severe illness or death.

2. When baking, do not place foil on the bottom of a gas oven to collect drips and spills, as it will interfere with proper combustion and cause CO to leak into the air.

3. If power goes out, do not use a gas oven, heater, or dryer to try and warm up your house.

4. Professionals must do the installation and servicing of all combustion appliances. Without the necessary skills and proper tools an installation can turn deadly.

5. Charcoal briquettes are designed for burning in an outdoor grill or barbeque pit. Never light charcoal in the house, garage, outbuilding, or tent.

6. Generators must always be run out of doors and never placed near an entryway. Be sure to close any windows or doors in the area of the generator.

7. Never run a generator in a garage. Opening garage doors and windows, as well as using fans, will not prevent CO from getting into the house and accumulating there.

8. Under no circumstances is a car engine to be allowed to run while in the garage, as it presents a serious danger of CO poisoning even if the door is left open.

The Dangers
There are serious dangers associated with carbon monoxide poisoning. The dangers vary in consequence, including a light exposure causing short-term effects, a serious exposure causing lasting debilitating effects, and a deadly exposure resulting in death. All of the effects of CO poisoning can be avoided with attentive care in using any appliances that create combustion.

1. Carbon monoxide poisoning can kill a person within minutes of being exposed to its deadly fumes.

2. Some of the symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to flu symptoms or food poisoning. Not feeling well, people go to bed to rest and never wake up.

3. Because it's not possible to see, smell, or taste CO, a person can continue breathing it in, unaware of the danger they are facing.

Know The Symptoms
Lack of knowledge and the non-specific nature of the symptoms of poisoning contribute to unnecessary injuries and deaths every year. Every home and workplace needs to have a discussion about the dangers of CO poisoning. A "symptoms and response" poster placed in a prominent location can be instrumental in the prevention of carbon monoxide related deaths.

Exposure to low concentrations of carbon monoxide in a room can cause noticeable symptoms.

* Nagging headache
* Periods of nausea
* Experiencing shortness of breath
* Long exposure to low levels causes permanent health problems

Exposure to moderate concentrations of the noxious gas can cause severe symptoms.

* Sever headache, similar in strength to a migraine
* Constant nausea
* Inability to concentrate and mental confusion
* Dizziness and difficulty walking
* Fainting and not reviving unassisted
* Exposure can result in death in a short time period

Exposure to high concentrations of CO results in death in a matter of minutes.

What To Do If Exposure Occurs
If you suspect one or more people, including yourself, have been exposed to CO at home or at the office, act immediately. Get everyone to the nearest source of fresh air. Open all windows and doors, turn off all combustion appliances, heaters, and boiler. Leave the premises immediately and go to a hospital for treatment. Call for emergency services if you or others are unable to leave on your own due to severe symptoms.

Don't take chances if you suspect even low levels of carbon monoxide poisoning. Exposure to this dangerous gas can cause permanent brain damage, serious heart problems, loss of memory, personality changes, and many other long-term health issues.

Author's Profile

Sam Jones advises people that a carbon monoxide alarm is one of the best ways to minimise the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning


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