Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless and odorless gas created by incomplete combustion of fuels. When inhaled, this gas enters your bloodstream and mixes with hemoglobin, which is the oxygen-carrying component in your blood.
The lack of oxygen may cause your body cells and tissues to fail, resulting in breathing complications and eventually death. Among others, possible sources of carbon monoxide in your home include:
- Gas Fires
- Burning charcoal
- Running cars, petrol-powered generators, and lawnmowers
- Water Heaters
Effects of Carbon Monoxide
The effects of carbon monoxide vary depending on the severity of the exposure. That said, the following are its most common effects.
1. Permanent Brain Damage
Prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can kill brain cells and cause other neurological disorders. The binding of carbon monoxide to hemoglobin is over 200 times stronger than for oxygen, making it extremely lethal to your respiratory system.
2. Heart Damage
Carbon monoxide exposure can cause damage to your heart’s muscles, inhibiting their contraction and expansion. This impairs the heart’s cardiac function of pumping blood to other parts of the body, causing coronary heart disease. Fatty substances may also build up in your arteries, and when they become completely blocked you may have a heart attack.
Cells are the smallest biological unit of a human, and they depend on oxygen to perform the functions that keep us alive. When you get overexposed to carbon monoxide, the cells begin to die one by one. After some time, different organs of your body start to feel the effects of insufficient oxygen, and eventually, this may be fatal.
4. Damage to Unborn Babies
The fetus and also young children breathe a lot faster than adults, which means they have greater oxygen needs than adults. If the fetus is exposed to carbon monoxide, it may have a low birth weight. The mother may also have a stillbirth.
Signs and Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may not be obvious, especially when you get mildly exposed to it. Some of the signs and symptoms to look out for include:
1. Tension-Type headache
This is where you feel the tightening of the neck muscles and pressure building up behind your eyes.
You may experience tiredness or fatigue due to the straining of body cells, tissues, and muscles as they seek oxygen.
3. Breathing Difficulty
As you seek gasps of oxygen after CO poisoning, you may experience breathing difficulties and even chest pains.
Safety Tips to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Some of the best ways to counter or prevent carbon monoxide poisoning include the following.
1. Proper Ventilation of Your House
It is imperative to ensure that your house is properly ventilated. Proper ventilation reduces your carbon monoxide exposure. You may need to seek licensed professionals to inspect, repair, and vent your heating equipment and gas appliances like stoves or water heaters.
2. Installation of Carbon Monoxide Detectors
The worst time for CO poisoning to occur is during your sleep. It may have caused a lot of damage before you detect it. It could even kill you silently. To curb this, you may need to install carbon monoxide detectors in your bedroom and other areas as you deem fit.
Having the battery-powered detectors as backups will ensure that you are covered even when the electricity goes out.
3. Professional Installation of Fuel-Burning Appliances
Have a professional visit your house and inspect the location to fit the appliances before installation. Test the appliances for any leakages.
In the event of a major leak, you need to call a licensed HVAC technician to inspect or reinstall your appliances.
4. Never Leave Petrol-Fueled Equipment Running
Different equipment emits varying levels of carbon monoxide. Whether it is the lawnmower or even the car in your garage, make sure they are switched off. Keeping them off-limits your exposure to this lethal gas.
During winter, regularly check that your car’s exhaust pipe is not blocked by snow.
Contact a Professional
Improper ventilation expedites the effects of CO in your body. Installing air quality monitors will ensure you have a detailed report on the level of air pollutants in your home. This then makes way for you to install air purifiers and ventilation systems to curb this menace.
We at Weather Masters Corp. in Fredrick, MD, are dedicated to ensuring that your home has the best air quality and is free of carbon monoxide. We also offer installation, repair, and maintenance of both air conditioners and heating systems. Duct sealing and sizing, indoor air quality, and gas and electric furnaces are also our forte.
Contact our experts today at Weather Masters Corp. to enjoy our exquisite array of services.