It’s not a subject anyone wants to talk about, but it’s a serious one that needs to be discussed: carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a rare, but deadly occurrence that happens several thousand times a year in the United States. It can happen as a result of a malfunctioning heater, but it can happen naturally, as well. The best way to protect against carbon monoxide poisoning is to know the signs that it’s happening, and to know how to defend against it. With that, let’s go over some information that can help keep you safe this winter.
What is It?
Carbon monoxide, or CO, is an odorless and invisible gas. When inhaled, it blocks the receptors in blood cells normally used to absorb oxygen. This leads to suffocation, which is what makes CO so dangerous. Carbon monoxide does occur naturally, though often in small amounts and limited to specific geographical oddities. Far more common is carbon monoxide produced as a result of combustion. Furnaces, stoves, and even fireplaces all produce small to moderate levels of carbon monoxide as a combustion byproduct. All of these systems, if they are properly maintained, have ways of safely disposing of carbon monoxide so that you are not exposed to it. If a problem occurs, however, it’s important that you know when to get out of the house and call emergency services.
Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms include dizziness, blurred vision, vomiting, headaches, hallucinations, and loss of consciousness. If you start to feel similar symptoms all of a sudden, leave the area and call emergency services. In order to protect you while you are sleeping, it is also highly recommended that you install carbon monoxide detectors and have them checked at least once a year.