The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

Winter is not far behind, seeing as several areas of the nation have already received the first snowfall of the season. Meteorologists and other weather experts, like the Old Farmer’s Almanac, have predicted another winter as brutal as the past. With the cold fast approaching, everyone has started thinking about how to stay warm. When going outside, you can stay warm by bundling up with a coat, scarf, and hat. Stay warm inside is a different story. The majority of homes rely on some type of combustion to produce heat, meaning the heating appliance burns some kind of fuel, like natural gas, oil, pellets or wood. Burning anything comes with its own set of safety risks, and one serious threat when burning is carbon monoxide.

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Carbon monoxide is the chemical name for a miniscule two-atom molecule. By itself, you would never know it existed, but when carbon monoxide turns up in high concentrations, it packs a punch. Carbon monoxide results whenever combustion occurs, which means anytime something burns. As a result, burning any type of fuel results in the production of carbon monoxide, including car exhausts, gas ranges, fireplaces, furnaces, and even lanterns. When burning is allowed to happen in an enclosed area, the concentration of carbon monoxide spikes dangerously. Because of this, running the engine of your car inside a closed garage is extremely hazardous. Unfortunately, it only gets worse because there is no way to detect carbon monoxide using sight, taste, or smell. The invisible, tasteless, odorless gas is most commonly discovered by mandatory detectors inside the house. On the occasions it goes undetected, the rapid onset of poisoning effects on the human body can disable a person before he or she realizes the problem.

Take care to memorize the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, so you or a loved one do not fall victim to the sinister gas. Poisoning starts with difficulty breathing, dizziness, and nausea. While these symptoms resemble other common illnesses, carbon monoxide poisoning is easily the most deadly. The molecule enters the body through the lungs and prevents oxygen from moving around the body. Thus, signs start with difficulty breathing and can eventually result in loss of consciousness and death. Stopping and possibly reversing the damage can be done by immediately moving the victim to an open outdoor area with fresh air.

This highly dangerous gas must be respected for the power it has. Whether you burn wood in a fireplace or burn gas in a furnace this season to heat your home, recognize the dangers of carbon monoxide. Install carbon monoxide detectors, and have an expert out to ensure your heating appliance is functioning properly. If you live in the area of Wichita, Kansas, contact Home Safe Hearth & Chimney, Inc. for more information on setting up an appliance inspection.

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