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Keep Your Home Safe from Carbon monoxide (CO) Poisoning

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, non-irritating and odorless gas, so can not be detected by smell.

Those qualities have earned it a reputation as "the silent killer," said Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service public education coordinator Marc Proulx. The gas results from combustion any time fuel is burned in heaters, stoves, lanterns, charcoal grills, portable generators, fireplaces, gas ranges, furnaces or idling car or truck in a garage or enclosed space. Other sources include gasoline-powered tools such as leaf blowers, lawn mowers, high-pressure washers, concrete cutting saws, power trowels, and welders.

Everyone is exposed to small amounts of carbon monoxide daily. However, inhaling too much of it can result in CO poisoning. Different people and populations may have different tolerance levels. CO can increase to dangerous levels when combustion fumes become trapped indoors, poorly ventilated or enclosed space. Inhaling these fumes causes CO to build up in your bloodstream, which can lead to severe tissue damage in people and animals who breathe it. When this occurs, you can become unconscious. Death may occur in these cases.

Common causes at homes i. Collapsed vent cover on the chimney that prevent the deadly gas from escaping. ii. Idling automobiles with the exhaust pipe blocked by snow. iii. Winter season when people use their furnaces and fireplaces more aggressively and spend more time indoors.

Most common symptoms The most common symptoms of CO poisoning is dull headache. Others are;

i.   Nausea                       ii. Dizziness                           iii. Difficulty breathing iv. Weakness                   v. Chest pain                          vi. Feeling like the world is spinning vii.Stomach upset          viii. Flu-like effects ix. Vomiting

Possible complications Even minor cases of CO poisoning can cause serious complications. These may include; i. Brain damage      iii. Heart damage ii. Organ damage    iv. Death

How to prevent CO poisoning i. Household carbon monoxide detector. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has stated, "carbon monoxide detectors are as important to home safety as smoke detectors are," and recommends each home have at least one carbon monoxide detector, and preferably one on each level of the building. These devices, which are relatively inexpensive and widely available, are either battery- or AC-powered, with or without battery backup. ii.  Have your heating and air conditioning systems checked twice a year (Spring & Fall) Ensure there’s plenty of ventilation in areas with appliances that burn gas, wood, propane, or other fuel. iii. Don’t fall asleep or sit for a long time in an idling car that’s in an enclosed space. iv. Don’t sleep near a gas or kerosene space heater. v.  Don’t ignore symptoms of CO poisoning.

Exposed to carbon monoxide? i. Call 911 immediately if you or someone you know shows signs of CO poisoning. ii. Shut off the fuel burning appliance, if you know what it is. iii. Open doors and windows to air the building out. iv .Call your gas provider, whether it's natural gas or propane, and request an emergency inspection. v. Those who are unconscious may require CPR on site.


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