Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
You can’t see, hear, smell, or taste carbon monoxide. But if it’s in the air around you, it can be deadly. Too much carbon monoxide can block oxygen from connecting in your blood.
It is important to know the steps you can take to avoid this gas and keep you and your family safe.
Carbon Monoxide in the Air
Carbon monoxide is a gas that is can be found anywhere that fuel is burned. Common devices that release carbon monoxide include:
These devices only become dangerous when:
If carbon monoxide builds up to unhealthy levels it becomes a danger to anyone who breathes it in. The longer someone spends in this air the worse the damage may be.
Reduce Your Chance of Exposure
Identify items in and around your house from the list above. Understand the proper use and dangers of each device. Only buy and use equipment that carries the seal of the American Gas Association or the Underwriters' Laboratory.
Proper maintenance and use include:
Know the Signs
Symptoms of a carbon monoxide poisoning resemble the flu. It can cause headache, lightheadedness, weakness, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. Eventually it will cause unconsciousness.
If you think you have carbon monoxide poisoning, then:
If a carbon monoxide alarm sounds:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Public Health Agency of Canada
Carbon monoxide poisoning. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/co/default.htm. Updated June 1, 2015. Accessed February 20, 2017.
Carbon monoxide toxicity. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115658/Carbon-monoxide-toxicity. Updated March 30, 2016. Accessed February 20, 2017.
Last reviewed June 2017 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated 6/22/2017
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