Can you think of a silent killer that lurks within household items? How about carbon monoxide? While the gas is safe and quite functional when used properly, it can be lethal when accidentally inhaled in concentrated doses. Such a situation is referred to as carbon monoxide poisoning, and should be considered a medical emergency that should be taken care of right away.
Carbon monoxide, often abbreviated as CO, is a gas produced by burning fossil fuel. What makes it such a silent killer is its odorless and colorless properties. It is extremely difficult to detect until the body has inhaled a detrimental amount of the gas, and if inhaled in high concentrations, it can be fatal. Carbon monoxide causes tissue damage by blocking the body’s ability to absorb enough oxygen. In fact, poisoning from this gas is one of the leading causes of unintentional death from poison.
Here are some common household sources that can emit carbon monoxide:
Some of these pieces of machinery and equipment have been replaced with electricity as fuel sources in the modern day, thus eliminating the possibility of carbon monoxide leaks. However, in older houses and apartments, such risks can still prevail, so always perform periodic checks for possible gas leaks. Be sure to always keep enclosed spaces well ventilated as a precautionary measure, and never operate a charcoal grill or light a fireplace in an enclosed, poorly ventilated space.
Some factors can place certain individuals at a higher risk for carbon monoxide poisoning than others.
When signs and symptoms of CO poisoning are not addressed, permanent damage to the brain and cardiovascular system can occur, followed by death. If you are experiencing the following signs and symptoms, you may be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning. Be sure to immediately check your heating systems for a possible leak.
Unfortunately, carbon monoxide poisoning is often confused with the flu, alcohol intoxication, or sea sickness. One way to confirm symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning is to leave the house or suspected area. If the signs and symptoms disappear after leaving, it might indicate a gas leak. To be safe, be sure to open the windows and seek fresh air immediately if experiencing any such symptoms, and call 911 when it is confirmed.
Here are some tips that can be used to minimize your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning:
Carbon monoxide is a useful gas when it is regulated and contained within the proper equipment. Be sure to understand this gas so you know how to properly handle it should you experience a leak.