Carbon monoxide poisoning

Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas that has no taste or smell. If the gas is inhaled, it can make the individual sick and can be deadly. Carbon monoxide is oftentimes called as the “silent killer”. There are reported cases every year where some resulted to deaths.

Prevention of carbon monoxide poisoning

It is vital to be well attentive of the potential risks and recognize any appliances in the house that can possibly cause the leakage of carbon monoxide. Install a carbon monoxide alarm to detect a leak in the house. The device produces a high-pitched noise if the level of gas is high. Once the alarm sounds off or a leak is suspected, the following must be observed:

  • Stop using all appliances and evacuate the property right away. Stay calm and avoid increasing the heart rate.
  • Do not go inside the property.
  • Seek immediate medical help. Take note that the individual might not realize that he/she is already badly affected by carbon monoxide. Getting fresh air will not treat any exposure.

What are the indications of carbon monoxide poisoning?

A headache is the usual symptom of a mild case of carbon monoxide poisoning. This can be accompanied by other symptoms such as the following:

  • Stomach pain
  • Dizziness
    Carbon monoxide poisoning

    A headache is the usual symptom of a mild case of carbon monoxide poisoning.

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion and fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing and shortness of breath

The signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are strikingly similar to the flu and food poisoning. Nevertheless, unlike with flu, carbon monoxide poisoning will not cause an increase in the body temperature or fever.

Close look on carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide is hard to detect since it has no taste, smell or color. It simply means that anyone can inhale it without even realizing. The gas is produced when fuels such as oil, gas, wood or coal do not fully burn. Once fire burns in a sealed off space such as a small room, the oxygen is steadily utilized and changed with carbon dioxide. Take note that the fuel could not fully burn and release carbon monoxide.

After the gas in inhaled, it enters the bloodstream and combines with hemoglobin to form carboxyhemoglobin. Once this occurs, the blood could not carry oxygen and the lack of oxygen causes the cells and tissues in the body to die.

What causes leakage of carbon monoxide?

Incorrect installation, poorly maintained or poorly ventilated appliances in the house such as heaters, cookers and central heating boilers are the usual sources of carbon monoxide.

Clogged chimneys can also prevent carbon monoxide from escaping, thus allowing the gas to accumulate in high levels. The risk for poisoning can occur at any time in any house or enclosed space.

What are the signs to watch out for?

It is vital to be well aware of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and to watch out for warning signs. You have to suspect poisoning if:

  • Family members or colleagues at work become sick with comparable symptoms.
  • Symptoms vanish when going away for vacation and recur upon returning home.
  • Symptoms tend to be seasonal such as getting headaches more often during the winter season when the central heating is used more often.
  • Pets become sick.

Other possible indications of a carbon monoxide leakage include the following:

  • Sooty marks on the walls around stoves or boilers
  • Blackened, sooty marks on the front covers of gas fires
  • Yellow flame coming from gas appliances
  • Smoke buildup in rooms due to a faulty chimney

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