Carbon Monoxide: The Silent Killer

Carbon monoxide is a poison of high risk that you cannot smell, see or taste, but it is deadly. Carbon monoxide enters the body through the lungs and is transported through the blood. The carbon monoxide keeps the blood from transporting the oxygen to the tissues of the body. Oxygen is essential to the functioning of the heart and the brain; lack of it can be fatal.

Unless a house is totally electric your family has a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Burning kerosene, oil, natural gas and wood can produce carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is only a problem if the appliances and equipment are not functioning properly. Worn parts and improper ventilation can cause carbon monoxide to be released in the home. The following products also can produce carbon monoxide:

  • Gas or oil heat
  • Kerosene space heaters
  • Gas stoves
  • Wood stoves
  • Gas grills or ovens
  • Charcoal
  • Automobiles
  • Lawn mowers, generators or other gas powered equipment

The most important thing that you can do to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning is to buy and install CO detectors in your house or apartment. Detectors save the lives of many people each year. The detectors also make a perfect gift. If you have any questions call 1-800-222-1222. You can prevent carbon monoxide poisonings by doing the following:

  • Hire a professional to install your heating
  • Clean the chimney and heating equipment each winter before using it
  • Inspect the ventilation of all appliances
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors in your home and garage
  • Check your vehicle regularly
  • Never leave your car running in the garage
  • Never sleep inside a running car
  • Repair your lawn mower and other gas or oil powered equipment in the fresh air

When a person is poisoned with carbon monoxide he presents with symptoms similar to a common flu accompanied by headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, loss of muscle strength, chest pain, convulsions, wanting to sleep more, rapid heartbeat and confusion. If you suspect that you or your family could have been exposed to carbon monoxide, you should:

  • Evacuate everyone to fresh air
  • Call the fire department at 911
  • Call the poison center at 1-800-222-1222
  • Call the gas or oil company that cares for your heating