Carbon Monoxide Law Help
What is carbon monoxide?
Where does CO come from?
When appliances are kept in good working condition, they produce little CO, and this CO should be vented away from people. But improperly operating or improperly vented appliances can produce excessive carbon monoxide. Long-term exposure to low levels of CO can be just as deadly as short-term, high-level exposure to this poisonous gas. Also, using kerosene heaters or charcoal grills indoors, or running a car in a garage, can cause high levels of CO in the air you breath.
Common sources of CO include the following wood or gas fueled appliances:
- Room heaters
- Charcoal grills
- Cooking ranges
- Water heaters
- Automobiles run in closed garages
- Portable generators
- Wood burning stoves
Who is at risk of CO poisoning?
Each year, nearly 5,000 people in the United States are treated in hospital emergency rooms for CO poisoning; however, this number is believed to be an underestimate of CO poisoning because many people with CO symptoms mistake the symptoms for the flu or are misdiagnosed.
Why is CO called the silent killer?
Because CO gas has no warning properties; that is, it has no odor and has no color, even at toxic or life threatening levels, it is considered a silent killer.
Although not always experienced, the initial symptoms of CO are similar to the flu (but without the fever). But it can also mimic other ailments like gastric flu or stomach upset, the symptoms of CO poisoning include:
- Irregular breathing
It is critical to note that death from CO poisoning can result with some or all of these symptoms never being experienced, in which case the overexposed victim simply “falls asleep” and never regains consciousness.
How can I prevent CO poisoning?
How do CO alarms work?
Where should the detector be installed?
CO gas distributes evenly and fairly quickly throughout the house; therefore, a CO detector should be installed in sleeping portions of the house, but outside individual bedrooms, in order to alert all occupants who are sleeping in that part of the house. We also recommend that a detector is fitted in the general living area of the house, the area in which you spend most time. People can make the mistake of fitting the alarm next to the furnace, this is not good because CO detectors do not like extreme changes in temperature. Also, the furnace is normally located in a remote portion of the home where you may not hear the alarm.
Do not place the detector within five feet of household chemicals as they may damage the unit or cause false alarms. Wall or ceiling installations are acceptable locations for mounting CO detectors, but always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing a CO detector. If your detector is wired directly into your home’s electrical system, you should test it monthly. If your unit operates off of a battery, test the detector weekly and replace the battery at least once a year.
Responding to CO alarms
A CO detector alarm indicates elevated levels of CO in the home. Never ignore the alarm or otherwise silence it unless a qualified individual has examined the affected area and deemed it safe.
If your alarm sounds, immediately leave the home, even if you are not feeling symptoms of CO poisoning (headache, dizziness, or other flu-like symptoms). Immediately call first responders, and tell them your CO detector has sounded the alarm. When they arrive, ask them to measure the CO levels in your home. Your first responder should place you and your family on 100% oxygen to counter the effects of CO poisoning.
If you are transported to the hospital, request a COHb blood test. This measures the levels of carbon monoxide in your blood. Tell your doctor how long you were on oxygen before you arrived at the hospital, so he or she will know how to interpret the COHb levels in your blood.
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