Carbon monoxide poisoning is an often under feared danger that can quickly lead to serious illness and death without proper intervention and preparation. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and initially non-irritating gas and this is wherein lies the danger. It’s not uncommon for victims of carbon monoxide poisoning to be clueless about the true culprit of their symptoms. Here we’ll look at some of the basics of carbon monoxide. Where does it come from? What are the symptoms? How can you prevent carbon monoxide buildup in your home?
What Creates Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide is produced when fuels such as gas, oil, coal, and wood are not fully burned. These fuels are used in a large number of household items so it’s important to be aware of the danger. For example: boilers, gas fires, central heating systems, water heaters, and kitchen cooking appliances are all capable of producing carbon monoxide when not functioning properly. Additional potential sources of carbon monoxide include: blocked flues and chimneys, burning fuel in an unventilated space, faulty or blocked car exhausts, or even smoking indoors. It’s important to make sure these appliances are properly installed and well maintained to lower the risk of carbon monoxide buildup. It’s also important to note that unventilated spaces are much more dangerous in terms of carbon monoxide buildup.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Symptoms?
Another important aspect of combating the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning is being able to recognize the symptoms and react accordingly. There are a lot of different symptoms depending on the seriousness of the buildup. Common symptoms for low levels of carbon monoxide include: headache, nausea, dizziness, tiredness and confusion, vomiting, stomach pain, and difficulty breathing. High levels of carbon monoxide can cause much more serious symptoms including: intoxication, vertigo, ataxia (loss of physical coordination), breathlessness, chest pain, seizures, and loss of consciousness. Very high levels of carbon monoxide buildup can lead to death within minutes. Babies, young children, and pregnant women are especially at risk. Small pets are also especially susceptible and may even show early signs of carbon monoxide poisoning that can act as an early warning system (a la canary in the coal mine).
If you have any of these symptoms and suspect carbon monoxide buildup may be the culprit it’s important to contact poison control or see a doctor immediately.