Being safe with carbon monoxide in Lawton OK
The gas commonly known as carbon monoxide – also chemically stated as “CO”—is a colorless, odorless gas that is created by the burning of fossil fuels. If you burn oil, wood, charcoal, natural gas, kerosene or gasoline, carbon monoxide is produced in the burning process. In a well ventilated home, the concentration of CO in the atmosphere isn’t normally a concern. However, if there is a malfunction and the CO level reaches damaging levels, you may not be aware of it because you can’t see or smell the harmful gas. Without a CO detector you may not know about dangerously high levels until you are made sick from it. CO is nothing to mess with because it can kill, and it can kill without warning. Here are a few ways to be safe from CO poisoning in your own home.
Become familiar with how increased CO levels affect the body. Even slightly elevated levels of CO can cause dizziness, headaches, weakness, tiredness, headaches and impaired vision. As the concentration of CO grows greater, the symptoms become much more severe and damaging. At higher levels, chest pains, nausea and rapid breathing can begin. At very high levels of 150-200 ppm of CO, humans can die.
If you’re in your home and you experience the symptoms listed above, immediately open all your doors and windows, no matter how cold it is outside. Next turn off all the appliances that use combustion, and leave the house quickly. Go to the local emergency room. If you are unable to drive, call a friend to drive you there. Be sure to tell them that you believe you might have CO poisoning.
Once you are back home, be sure to keep the windows open. If you haven’t already done so, this is the time to call an HVAC professional to bring your system back to a place where it is operating safely. The HVAC technician will take a look at your oil or gas furnace to check for any leaks. Other systems to have checked are gas stoves, water heaters, clothes dryers, wood stoves, fireplaces and spaces heaters. Basically, you need to inspect anything burns fuel, and the inspection should include chimneys, duct work, flues and vents as well as the parts of the system that burns the fuel. Once all the systems have been inspected and fixed, ask your HVAC professional to test the air quality in your home to make sure that proper CO levels are being maintained. It’s a good idea to make air quality testing part of your yearly HVAC maintenance checkup.
Make sure that appliances that burn fuel are vented to the exterior of your home. In times of extremely cold temperatures, folks have used unvented gasoline and kerosene stove heaters in their homes. This is very dangerous! If one of these devices is being used, make sure that windows are open so that outside air can diffuse any concentration of the CO gas. Do not go to sleep in a room with a gas or kerosene heater. You won’t be able to detect warning symptoms while you are asleep.
Don’t burn charcoal inside your home, and don’t let your car idle inside the garage. Even in the fireplace or a garage, CO can spread into the home. When you’re using a gas or wood fireplace, it’s always advisable to keep a window open for ventilation. CO can travel throughout the room even when the flue damper is open. Gas logs can also create CO in a room.
If you have symptoms of CO poisoning, don’t ignore them or simply pass them off as a cold or flu symptoms. If other people in your home are having the same issues, it may be CO poisoning.
The best defense against CO poisoning is a CO monitor. Although there are several types to choose from, they all do the same thing. They let you know when the CO levels in your home are too high. One of the least expensive types is a patch that changes color just before the CO reaches a threatening level. These are not as effective as the electronically activated detectors because you need to be looking at the patch to detect the change.
The battery-powered and electric CO detectors sound an alarm when the CO exceeds a certain level. Although those levels can be pre-set, these systems cannot always determine just how long the excessive level has been present. For the optimal level of safety, it’s best to get an alarm that measures both the concentration level of CO and the duration of the contamination. Some detectors will shut down the fuel-burning device or devices that are causing the higher-than-desired level of CO inside your home.
Having a CO monitor is one of the best investments you can make to ensure that your home is safe. Combining a yearly maintenance inspection along with the installation of a high-quality CO monitor can give you the peace of mind you need to know that you and your family are safe.