Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless threat to you and your family’s health. Found in fuel burning engines and several appliances, carbon monoxide can become a silent killer if not detected early enough. So, what is carbon monoxide and what causes it? Today we’ll dive deeper into this gas and its sources. Sources of carbon monoxide are more common than you may think. Thankfully, there are several ways to combat this fatal gas and keep your family safe and healthy.
What is Carbon Monoxide (CO)?
Carbon Monoxide is a lethal odorless, tasteless, and colorless gas. Often mixed with other gases to make it detectable to the senses, carbon monoxide can be extremely harmful when ingested. Carbon Monoxide is the result of natural gases being partially burned. Fuels that are capable of releasing carbon monoxide include oil, gasoline, kerosene, propane, coal, and even wood.
Why is Carbon Monoxide Harmful?
As mentioned, carbon monoxide cannot be detected with the senses. When inhaled, the carbon monoxide molecules will replace oxygen in our bodies, which will eventually lead to poisoning and ultimately death. If carbon monoxide builds up in your home, you would have no way of detecting it until you became ill. To make matters worse, carbon monoxide poisoning has similar symptoms of the flu, which can fool you into thinking you caught a bug instead. According to the CDC, over 400 people die from unintentional carbon monoxide exposure in the U.S. each year, making it a national concern. Individuals with chronic heart disease or breathing issues, as well as infants and the elderly, are more at risk and can be affected quicker.
What Are Its Sources?
Carbon monoxide can be found in the fumes produced by engines and certain appliances. Cars, trucks, furnaces, water heaters, space heaters, clothes dryers, lanterns, gas stoves, grills, small engines and several other sources can give off carbon monoxide. In short, carbon monoxide is produced when a gas or material is burned, so sources of carbon can be found all throughout our daily lives. Typically, homes with fuel-burning appliances are at a higher risk for potential leaks. As a quick reference, here are the major sources you should be concerned with throughout your home.
Automobile exhaust releases a great deal of carbon monoxide. Refrain from running your engine in small, enclosed spaces such as a garage. When doing so, the carbon monoxide has no place to escape and will put your health at risk.
A fuel-burning furnace is a common appliance that may leak carbon monoxide. Make sure to regularly check any and all hoses for damage. In addition, ensure that the combustion air pipe and the vent system are in working order and there are no visible obstructions or holes.
There’s a lot that makes up a water heater—temperature/pressure relief valve, draft diverter, vent, combustion chamber hatch, flex connectors. It’s a lot to take in. We recommend having a trained professional inspect your water heater every 6 months and drain it once a year to ensure it’s properly maintained.
Gas stoves are another common area to experience carbon monoxide leaks. When poorly maintained and ventilated, these stoves can become a danger to you and your family. To ensure their safety, make sure your stove is properly inspected regularly and make sure your cooking area is highly ventilated.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Symptoms
As mentioned previously, carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms are similar to the flu. The symptoms you experience can differ based on how much and how long you’ve been exposed to carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide deprives your body of oxygen, leading to all sorts of serious conditions, including death. As a quick reference, here are a few major symptoms to look out for.
After high volume exposure for prolonged periods:
- Cardiac Issues
- Chest Pain
- Brain Damage
- Breathing Issues
After low volume exposure for prolonged periods:
- Minor Headaches
- Breathing Issues
In general, infants and elderly are more vulnerable to carbon monoxide. If you or your family experience any of these symptoms, we recommend leaving your home immediately and seeking medical attention.
How to Detect Carbon Monoxide Leaks
Sources of carbon monoxide can easily be monitored with state-of-the-art carbon monoxide detectors. A carbon monoxide detector utilizes advanced technology to continually monitor the levels of carbon monoxide in the air. These devices should be tested regularly and installed based upon the manufacturer’s recommendations. As a rule of thumb, each floor of your home should have at least one detector. For a greater sense of safety, we recommend having trained professionals install and test them.
At Mesa Alarm Systems, our team of security professionals is capable of providing your family with the expertise and technology you need to keep your family safe from carbon monoxide. Have peace of mind we’ll use industry best practices to evaluate your home and install detectors where they’re needed most. Don’t second guess the safety of your family; talk to a Mesa representative today!