Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gas that can kill you quickly. It is called the “silent killer” because it is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and non-irritating.CO is formed through the process of incomplete combustion.
Despite the risks of CO, most issues with it are completely preventable says Dan Heney who is the Regional Fire Chief of the Bonnyville Regional Fire Authority (BRFA).
“CO is almost the same weight as air so the ambient temperatures will affect where CO accumulates,” Regional Fire Chief Heney told Lakeland Connect. “If the surrounding temperatures are relatively warm, CO will rise but cold temperatures will make it fall. Regardless of where it is in the air, but it will generally gather into a pool. CO is particularly insidious as a harmful product because it is created by almost any combustion process, furnace, campfire, water heater, etc. and it can lead to death when encountered at high levels or even at low levels over a long period of time.”
CO will bind with your blood’s hemoglobin 200 times stronger than Oxygen, which means eventually high levels of CO in your blood will stop you from being able to use the Oxygen in the air around you, Regional Fire Chief Heney added.
Regional Fire Chief Heney says residents of the Lakeland should learn about the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
At low levels, effects include flu-like symptoms, such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Impaired motor functions, such as:
- Muscle weakness
- Partial or total loss of function of a body part (limb or limbs)
At high levels, or if you are exposed to low levels for long periods of time, you can experience:
- Chest pain
- Poor vision
- Difficulty thinking
At very high levels, it can cause:
Know how to prevent possible CO issues:
- Eliminate CO at the source. Make the maintenance of your furnace, fireplace, and all fuel-burning appliances an absolute priority. Have them checked and cleaned each year.
- Install a certified carbon monoxide alarm in your home and check it regularly to make sure the battery is working.
- Know the symptoms of CO poisoning. If they appear, it is important to get everyone, including pets, outside to fresh air immediately.
- Never heat your home with a gas stove.
- Never use a barbeque, charcoal, or hibachi grill in the home or in an enclosed area.
- During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow.
- Never use a gas-powered generator inside your home.
“If your CO alarm sounds, or you suspect CO poisoning, make sure to get out of your home immediately and call 911 from a safe place,” Regional Fire Chief Heney concluded.