According to the CDC, approximately 50,000 people in the United States receive treatment in the ER due to carbon monoxide (CO) exposure each year. Hundreds of those patients do not recover, and are fatally poisoned by exposure to carbon monoxide. There is a reason why CO has been given the befittingly morbid nickname of “The Invisible Killer”. You cannot see it, smell it, or taste it, allowing it to go virtually undetected in your home, especially in late fall and early winter when we first turn on our heating systems.
When you inhale, red blood cells pick up CO quicker than they pick up oxygen, allowing your body to replace the oxygen in your blood with this highly toxic gas. High levels of inhalation can cause loss of consciousness or even death within minutes, before any symptoms are even felt. Educating yourself on the sources of CO, preventative measures, and proper maintenance in your home is of utmost importance in keeping this lethal predator from lurking around your family.
Where does Carbon Monoxide come from? CO is created whenever a fuel is burned. This means it’s not your AC unit that you have to worry about- it’s your heating system that stands to be the real threat. Carbon monoxide is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be dangerous. When your fuel burning appliances or heating systems are used and cared for properly, you can keep them from producing hazardous levels of CO. Having your heating equipment cleaned and inspected by a certified professional prior to the beginning of every heating season is an absolute must.
As an added layer of security, be sure to install at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms. It’s important to note that low levels of CO don’t always cause the sensors to go off, especially when they are mounted to the ceiling or programmed to only go off at lethal levels. Even still, it is vital to keep batteries fresh and replace the detector every five years or so to make sure you’re using the latest technology available for detecting poisonous levels of gas. You can never be too careful.
Finally, know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. Symptoms include severe headaches, dizziness or disorientation, confusion, nausea, shortness of breath and/or fainting. Many of these symptoms are similar to those of COVID-19, the Flu, or even food poisoning, which means that many people won’t even think of carbon monoxide poisoning as an option when they start feeling sick. Don’t make this potentially fatal mistake! Even prolonged exposure to low levels of CO can have permanent health effects and may cause death. If these symptoms only appear when you’re in the house and then get better when you leave home, CO poisoning could very likely be the reason. Getting fresh air as soon as any of these symptoms surface is key and of course, be sure to seek the advice from your doctor!
Remember, carbon monoxide cannot be seen, tasted, or smelled; the only defense against this silent killer is forethought, knowledge, and prevention. Start now with a call to Titan Air Solutions to keep your family safe from this devastating intruder.