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Carbon monoxide is also referred to as the silent killer. Mainly because it has no taste, and smell. That’s why we need to learn how you can reduce carbon monoxide in homes. Carbon monoxide(CO) is a consequence of combustion and some of the common items in our homes such as oil burning furnaces, gas fires, charcoal grills, and portable generators, can expose us to this toxic gas.
Reports by the CDC indicate that more than 400 American citizens die from incidental carbon monoxide poisoning which does not result from fires annually, with more than 4,000 hospitalizations and 20,000 visits to the emergency room reported. This explains why campaigns to ensure that every home has an installed carbon monoxide sensor and alarm is ongoing.
What gives off carbon monoxide in your home?
Various factors can cause carbon monoxide in your home. These include; household appliances such as gas boilers, fires, central heating systems, cookers, water heaters, and open fires which utilize coal, gas, oil, or wood. Carbon monoxide is generated when fuel does not burn completely.
If you are running your car in the garage where there’s insufficient circulation of air, you are at risk of suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. When your house appliances are used appropriately and serviced accordingly, they should generate small amounts of carbon monoxide.
Also, if your appliances are old and you haven’t taken time to service them, then the appliances are likely to generate excess carbon monoxide emission which exposes you and your loved ones to toxic gas.
Below are more causes of carbon monoxide emission and buildup.
Smoking cigarettes which experts say increases carbon monoxide levels in the blood
Fumes from specific cleaning fluids and paint removers. If you are using methylene chloride-based products, exercise caution since methylene converts to carbon monoxide once inhaled.
Mechanically faulty furnaces, blocked chimneys and flues which prevents carbon monoxide from escaping
How can you tell if there is carbon monoxide in your house?
Detecting carbon monoxide emission manually can be difficult since the gas is odorless. This is why having a CO detector in your home is necessary. Still, you should take the initiative to analyze your home in a bid to recognize any alarming signs of carbon monoxide leaks. Here is a guide to help you establish possible CO leaks.
Scrutinize High-Risk Areas Within Your Home
Ensure that all your home appliances are well serviced and ventilated. Avoid utilizing your appliances in an enclosed area to avoid toxic emissions. Ensure your car engine is not running in the garage as it can be a major cause of CO in your house.
Conduct an In-house Air Quality Test
The best way to detect carbon monoxide in your home is by testing the quality of air in your home. You can utilize the services of private companies which specialize in testing and recommending ideas to enhance the quality of air in your home.
Further, some fire departments in the municipal sector, as well as utility organizations, can visit your home for free carbon monoxide detection or at affordable prices. These companies utilize advanced portable and electronic multiple toxic gas monitors.
These gadgets cannot be compared to the consumer level CO detectors because they can be adjusted to detect and even trace the source of carbon monoxide emission from almost zero per million parts, and at one increment per million parts. The advantage of hiring a professional company is that they also test for other toxic pollutants such as formaldehyde, radon, allergens, and mold.
HVAC Combustion Evaluation
Assuming you suspect that the HVAC system is releasing carbon monoxide, it’s best to get in touch with an HVAC professional company. Allow them to scrutinize your system using a combustion evaluator. A combustion evaluator is an electronic gadget that directly evaluates vented gases emanating from furnaces to establish the carbon monoxide ration.
A combustion evaluator only tests gases that are directly combusted from a furnace and not the comprehensive quality of air. This gadget is expensive which makes it popular only for commercial purposes. Even then, many HVAC companies find it too expensive and don’t have them. Research widely for a reliable company that owns a combustion evaluator.
Look Through Your Home
There are some indicators to watch out for which can alert you in the event of carbon monoxide emission in your home. Watch out for stuffy and stale gas even when your home is spotless.
Beware of any burning smell. Remember, CO monoxide is odorless. However, these odors could be resulting from other harmful gases perhaps from a faulty appliance. Excess moisture on walls and windows more so when they are near a fuel-burning appliance could indicate the presence of CO in your home.
What does it feel like to have carbon monoxide poisoning?
There are various symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. For instance, the victim might feel as though they are catching flu albeit with no high temperature. If multiple people within the same house complain of similar symptoms, it could be CO poisoning. Remember prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can be fatal. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, take immediate action before the situation escalates.
Severe Carbon monoxide poisoning include;
- Vision difficulties
- Loss of balance
- Loss of consciousness
- Memory problems
Victims who display mild symptoms are likely to recover fast. However, some carbon monoxide poisoning victims may experience various symptoms way later after inhaling CO. These include:
- Memory difficulties
- Coordination problems
Severe carbon monoxide poisoning can cause prolonged problems such as heart damage. People with breathing problems or heart-related problems are more at risk of CO poisoning. Babies, pregnant women, and small children are at risk too. If you have pets, you may want to evacuate them as fast as possible if you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning. Below are danger signs to beware of.
Many people within your household experiencing the same symptoms. improving when they either get out of the scene or move outside where there is sufficient air, only to recur when they get back to the house.
Seasonal symptoms such as severe headaches, flu, vomiting, or feeling nauseous. These could be triggered by a faulty central heating system or one that is used during specific times of the year.
In the event of persistent symptoms, your physician may want to conduct a blood test to rule out CO poisoning. They will test for increased levels of carboxyhemoglobin. They may also want to run an ECG (electrocardiogram) to check whether the heart is pumping blood appropriately.
What are the Effects of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
Hemoglobin is an essential molecule present in red blood cells. It transports oxygen from the lungs to tissues across the body, and carbon dioxide back to the body tissues. Carbon monoxide attached to hemoglobin more than 200 times easier than oxygen.
This means that the presence of carbon monoxide in the body denies oxygen sufficient space to navigate to the hemoglobin. Due to this, some parts of the body will be deprived of oxygen and this can cause grievous effects. Since the body requires oxygen and not carbon monoxide, inhaling CO is not beneficial but instead denies the blood oxygen.
Steps to take if you Suspect Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Move to a well-ventilated area. Where possible, move outside where there is sufficient circulation of air. Let your loved ones assess your symptoms in order to rule out poisoning.
In the event of severe symptoms rush the victim to the hospital. Depending on their condition. The doctor may put them on a 100% oxygen which is often dispensed through a mask to accelerate the generation of oxyhemoglobin which then replaces carboxyhemoglobin.
Your doctor may recommend hyperbaric oxygen therapy in severe nerve damage cases or extensive carbon monoxide exposure. This treatment option facilitates the flow of pure oxygen to help your body recover from oxygen deprivation resulting from CO poisoning.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is also given to CO poisoning victims whose supply of oxygen was either cut off or minimized, patients with a previous history of loss of consciousness, pregnant women, and patients in a coma.
Preventing Carbon Monoxide in the Home
There are various steps you can take in a bid to prevent carbon monoxide emission in the home. They include:
- Ensure all your appliances are in great working condition. Have certified technicians service them regularly to enhance their functionality and prevent possible leakages.
- Don’t utilize ovens or gas sources for home heating purposes
- Clean your flues and chimneys regularly
- Exercise caution when utilizing equipment and tools powered by gas indoors
- Ensure sufficient ventilation in all rooms and check for blocked vents
- Turn off your vehicle or motorbike at the garage before leaving
- Wear masks when using methylene chloride-based products
- If you have to use a generator, ensure it’s more than 20 feet of a vent, door, or window
- Avoid using charcoal for your barbecue if it’s located indoors
- Service your vehicle’s exhaust pipe at least once annually
According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), every homestead should have a carbon monoxide detector. Advanced detectors come with a digital readout, while others produce a high-pitched loud voice when the CO levels surpass safe levels. CO is a toxic gas which can be fatal. Take precautions to prevent disasters.