Carbon Monoxide Safety
CHARACTERISTICS OF CARBON MONOXIDE
Colorless - Undetectable by sight
Odorless - No detectable odor
Tasteless - Leaves no taste in the mouth
Flammable - combustible between 12.5% and 74% volume in the air
Not much lighter than air - 0.9672 specific gravity
Toxic - With sufficient exposure, carbon monoxide is deadly
SOURCES OF CARBON MONOXIDE IN HOMES
Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of incomplete combustion. This incomplete combustion may be from any fuel that utilizes a carbon base. Types of carbon base fuels include wood, tobacco, coal, kerosene, gasoline and natural gas.
Potential sources of carbon monoxide are any appliance, machinery or process that burns these fuels. Besides gas appliances, other sources of carbon monoxide may be kerosene heaters, internal combustion engines, fireplaces and even smoking. It is important for the gas technician to be made aware of these and other potential carbon monoxide sources when performing an investigation.
If you feel you have a carbon monixide build up in your home you can contact your local health department or fire department.
CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING
Carbon monoxide can only enter the body through the respiratory system. It acts to asphyxiate the body by combining with the hemoglobin in the bloodstream. Hemoglobin is the oxygen carrying component of the blood. Carbon monoxide replaces oxygen in the bloodstream causing asphyxiation to occur. The amount of carbon monoxide absorbed by the body depends on the following factors:
- Carbon monoxide concentration in the air
- Length of exposure
- Breathing rate
- Exposure to fresh air between carbon monoxide exposures
- Degree of physical activity
- Physical fitness
SYMPTOMS OF CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING
The early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning appear to be "flu-like." The most common of these symptoms are:
Later stages of carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms are much more severe. They include:
Shortness of breath
Extreme muscular weakness
If these symptoms are not immediately treated or the person is exposed to dangerous levels for any length of time, death could possibly occur. If these symptoms are experienced and thought to be associated with carbon monoxide poisoning, seek medical attention immediately.
- Replace filters regularly. Most are inexpensive.
- Have your furnace and water heater inspected annually.
- Look fo signs of improper venting.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector.
- Have chimney inspected and cleaned as needed.
- Check oven pilots for carbon build up.
- Never run your car while in a garage.
- Never line burners with foil.