Carbon monoxide is difficult to detect without using any kind of equipment because it is invisible and odorless. It is a poisonous gas produced when burning any type of fuel such as propane, gasoline, natural gas, wood, oil and charcoal. CO is invincible to the human senses, making it more dangerous. Thus, it is often regarded as a 'silent killer'. Exposure to this gaseous killer results to illness as it decreases the amount of oxygen present in the body. CO poisoning takes away a number of lives of unsuspecting people exposed to this gas each year.
How Can CO kill You?
Normally, when you breathe, oxygen is attached to your hemoglobin, transporting the oxygen around the body. O2 molecules bind to the atom of Iron tightly enough to carry and release them again wherever they are needed in the body.
When you breathe in CO, it acts like O2 in a way that it also attaches itself to the atoms of Iron in the hemoglobin. However, CO binds more tightly, making it impossible to release. When this happens, all hemoglobin becomes bound with CO leaving none to deliver O2 to different parts of the body. This eventually leads to Oxygen starvation or suffocation. Prolonged exposure or inhalation of large amounts of this poisonous gas deprives your body's vital organs of oxygen such as your heart and brain, leaving you breathless in a matter of minutes.
CO poisoning may have different effects to different people. However the common signs may include chest tightness, dizziness, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, chest pain, drowsiness, muscle weakness and loss of consciousness.
What to Do When Someone Suffers from CO Poisoning?
A person suffering from CO poisoning must immediately get fresh air. Turn off all gas appliances, open doors and windows and leave the house. You may also go to the nearest doctor or hospital to have a blood or breath test to see if you are in any immediate danger.
It is dangerous to assume that your home gas appliances are safe. It is best to call a gas services company to make sure that you and your family are safe. This will allow you to prevent incurring severe health problems caused by carbon monoxide exposure.
Luckily, there are a number of ways to prevent CO poisoning. Here are some of the things that you should do to ensure that no one in your family suffers from it.
1. Make sure that you install all heating equipment properly. Have your household heating system checked by a professional before turning the heat on as cold weather season begins.
2. Install CO detectors in your home. And when your CO detector goes off, you must assume that are a real emergency is present. Get everyone out of the house, including pets and call a gas company to have your home cleared of CO.
3. Never use a grill, camping stove or generator inside the home, garage or anywhere near the windows. It is also important to make sure that you never make use of your stove for heating.
4. Avoid leaving vehicle engines running inside the garage, even if the door is open.
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