Carbon Monoxide 101: The Basics You Need to Know

keeping your family safe from carbon monoxide

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is incredibly common, so much so, that we often forget about it. This can be a dangerous mistake, as carbon monoxide can cause serious bodily damage and even death. Knowing what it is, what causes it, and how it can impact your life are important aspects to understanding the severity of this dangerous gas.

What is carbon monoxide?

carbon monoxide safetyCarbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas that can be fatal with prolonged exposure. It forms with incomplete burning of an array of fuels, such as coal, wood, charcoal, oil, kerosene, propane, and natural gas, and can be found in the fumes of these substances. Carbon monoxide can build up when stoves, grills, fireplaces, furnaces, gas rangers, and gas rangers aren’t cleaned and care for properly.

How can you detect carbon monoxide?

Without a monitor, carbon monoxide can be incredibly difficult to notice. Since the gas is basically invisible—with no smell, color, or odor—you’ll only be able to tell its there because of symptoms. However, installing a carbon monoxide detector is the best, and the absolute safest way to keep tabs on carbon monoxide levels in your home. Most detectors will sound when levels reach dangerous peaks. However, many carbon monoxide detectors are now digital and display the carbon monoxide levels and track their movements so you can see exactly how safe the air in your home is at all times.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide

Many people describe symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning as flu-like, and can range in severity depending on the amount of carbon monoxide in the air. Moderate carbon monoxide poisoning comes with headache, dizziness, fatigue, and upset stomach. However, if symptoms go unnoticed or untreated, they can worsen, including weakness, vomiting, chest pains, confusion, disorientation, loss of muscular coordination, fainting, and death.

Considering how difficult it is to detect carbon monoxide and how similar the symptoms are to many other illnesses and disorders, carbon monoxide poisoning often goes untreated and can cause serious repercussions. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 400 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning, 4,000 are hospitalized, and 20,000 are taken to the emergency room.

How to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning

To reduce carbon monoxide emissions, there are a few things you can do on your own to try and manage this dangerous gas. Never burn charcoal in your home, never use portable fuel-burning equipment in the home (camping gear, lanterns, grills, etc.), and always make sure your appliances are installed properly and done by a professional. These precautions can help reduce the risk of carbon monoxide leaks and excess production in the home.

The best way to regulate carbon monoxide emissions is by installing a carbon monoxide detector, which is the most precise method to keeping your home safe. From the most basic, battery-powered detectors to high tech digital models, these devices measure the amounts of carbon monoxide in the air and when levels become dangerous, an alarm will alert you and your family. To make sure your alarms are working as they should, replace carbon monoxide detectors every five years and make sure to run tests every few months to ensure they’re working effectively.

house plants and carbon dioxideOne last important thing to know about carbon monoxide is that it isn’t the same as carbon dioxide (CO2). While the two are odorless, clear gases that can be deadly, CO2 is a naturally occurring byproduct human and animal breath combined with chemical reactions, and the combustion of fossil fuels. Plants need CO2 to survive, and it’s rare for humans to have CO2 poisoning, as our bodies are built to balance the emissions of this gas. So whenever you see the 2 after carbon monoxide, you know you’re dealing with the less harmful of the two gases.

Talk to your security team about how you can ensure your home is protected from carbon monoxide best, and the many ways you can keep it that way.


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