CARBON MONOXIDE (CO) SAFETY WARNINGS
Carbon monoxide (CO), commonly termed “The Silent Killer” is a highly poisonous gas produced by any fossil fuel burning appliance (e.g. gas, coal, diesel, oil, wood etc.) and has no smell, taste or colour. It can leak from flues and cooking & heating appliances when they have been poorly maintained or simply break down. Inadequate ventilation or blocked flues are frequently to blame but even adverse weather conditions have been the reason behind leaks that proved fatal. Leaks can be caused by many potential sources and are not always directly related to an appliance malfunction. Modern housing insulation techniques, such as double-glazed windows, can exaggerate a problem by effectively creating an airtight environment.
HOW CARBON MONOXIDE CAN AFFECT MY HEALTH
When we breathe in air, vital oxygen is absorbed by the blood and transported through our body. Blood contains a special substance called “haemoglobin” which carries the oxygen. Unfortunately, haemoglobin will carry carbon monoxide in preference to oxygen. When we breathe in air containing carbon monoxide, the carbon monoxide replaces the oxygen and, as a result, we suffocate from the inside. CO can kill quickly when it leaks in large quantities or can build up over a period of time, initially causing symptoms such as headaches, nausea and dizziness. These are often incorrectly diagnosed by the medical professionals as flu. Ultimately, if the brain does not get sufficient oxygen, carbon monoxide will cause death. All humans and animals are at risk from CO poisoning. No one is immune. Experts believe those most at risk are young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with respiratory problems.
WARNING! The detector may not protect people who are at special risk from carbon monoxide exposure by reason of age, pregnancy or medical condition. If in doubt, consult your medical practitioner. A carbon monoxide and methane gas detector is not a substitute for a smoke alarm or a combustible gas detector.
WHAT CO LEVEL IS DANGEROUS TO MY HEALTH
The health effects of CO depend on the CO concentration and length of exposure, as well as each individual’s health condition. CO concentration is measured in parts per million (ppm). Most people will not experience any symptoms from prolonged exposure to CO levels of approximately 1 to 50 ppm but some heart patients might experience an increase in chest pain. As CO levels increase and remain above 50 ppm, symptoms become more noticeable and can include headache, fatigue and nausea. At sustained CO concentrations above 100 to 300 ppm, disorientation, uncosciousness, and death are possible.
WARNING! The detector is an element of protection in your home, but it is not a substitute for the safe use and proper maintenance of the appliances that can produce CO or methane gas leaks.
HOW CAN I PREVENT CO POISONING
Make sure appliances are installed and operated according to the manufacturer’s instructions and local building codes. Most appliances should be installed by qualified professionals. Have the heating system professionally inspected and serviced annually to ensure proper operation. The inspector should also check chimneys and flues for blockages, corrosion, partial and complete disconnections, loose connections, and cracks in furnace heat exchanger.
WARNING! Install a detector that meets the requirements of the safety standards. The detectors have always been designed to alarm before potentially life-threatening levels of CH4 and/or CO are reached.
Never burn charcoal inside a home, garage, vehicle, or tent.
Never leave a car running in the garage, even with the garage door open.
Never use gas appliances such as ranges, ovens, or clothes dryers to heat your home.
Never operate unvented fuel-burning appliances in any room where people are sleeping.
Do not cover the bottom of natural gas or propane ovens with aluminum foil. Doing so blocks the combustion air flow through the appliance and can produce CO.
During home renovations, ensure that appliance vents and chimneys are not blocked by tarps or debris. Make sure appliances are in proper working order when renovations are complete.