Seasons are Changing: carbon monoxide awareness imperative

  • Published
  • By Greg Chesser
  • 90th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Prevention chief
Although the popularity of carbon monoxide alarms has been growing in recent years and all base housing units have them installed, it cannot be assumed that everyone is familiar with the hazards of CO poisoning in the home.

Often called the silent killer, CO is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil and methane burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel are potential sources of CO. Vehicles or generators running in an attached garage can also produce dangerous levels of CO.

CO facts & figures

· The dangers of co exposure depend on a number of variables, including the victim's health and activity level. infants, pregnant women, and people with physical conditions that limit their body's ability to use oxygen (i.e. emphysema, asthma, heart disease) can be more severely affected by lower concentrations of co than healthy adults would be.

· A person can be poisoned by a small amount of co over a longer period of time or by a large amount of co over a shorter amount of time.

· Symptoms of co poisoning - CO enters the body through breathing and poisoning can be confused with flu symptoms, food poisoning and other illnesses. some symptoms include shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, light headedness or headaches. High levels of co can be fatal, causing death within minutes.

Causes of CO in the home:

· Fuel fired appliances: gas fired furnaces, hot water heaters, fire places, gas fired appliances such as grills and heaters.

· Vehicles: running a vehicle in the garage. even if the door is up, wind can force the vehicle exhaust which is primarily co until the engine reaches operating temperature back into the residence when the occupant re-enters the facility.

· Any alarm from a co detector constitutes an emergency where the detector is in full alarm mode or if occupants are feeling any of the ill effects listed above. Call 911 immediately and evacuate to fresh air.