Home Safety: Carbon Monoxide!

Safeguarding your family and home should be your number one priority at all times, and this is why you must not take chances in any way.

However, it is another ball game entirely when you need to protect your home or family from a threat or hazard that you cannot smell, taste or even see.

This is the kind of menace you face when you hear about carbon monoxide and all its ills.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide – or CO – is a very toxic gas that is tasteless, odorless, and colorless. It materializes as a result of the incomplete combustion of fuel or compounds that contain a significant amount of carbon.

Sources of carbon monoxide in a home or domestic setting include:

  • Charcoal or wood heaters
  • Gas Stoves
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Gas heaters
  • Infiltration or permeation of car exhaust from adjoining garages

Emissions of CO in unventilated or enclosed spaces within a domestic setting can result in massive casualties or admissions into hospitals.

The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is the most abundant contaminant in the atmosphere. Most of the heaters used in modern homes today function as a result of gas combustion.

When gas is burned, it discharges CO and other gases as by-products. These pollutants need to be flued to the outside of the house via a mechanism or pipe. The latter will ensure that all gases and smoke are transported out of the interior of the home to make way for fresh air.

But there is a grave danger if:

  • The heater is either old or faulty
  • The ventilation in the home is not sufficient to clear the air

If either of the scenarios described above occurs, carbon monoxide – as well as other gases – will build up within your home to significant and dangerous levels. When carbon monoxide is present in the air at levels that are considered inappropriate and inhaled by an individual, it diffuses rapidly into a person’s blood. Then the molecules of the gas bind with hemoglobin, thereby forming what is known as “carboxyhemoglobin.” This toxic compound helps in reducing the ability of blood to carry oxygen which is essential for human tissues to survive.

High concentrations of CO can lead to unconsciousness or even death, and this can occur within minutes.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The following are the symptoms of CO poisoning:

  • Malaise
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Headaches

Individuals who are more susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning include the elderly, pregnant women, people with health challenges, children and unborn babies.

Tips On What to Do to Keep Yourself and Home Safe

There are several simple ways you can adopt to safeguard yourself and your family from the effects of carbon monoxide. The tips are outlined below:

  • Conduct gas leakage tests from time to time
  • Get professional gas fitters to help you check your gas heaters at least every two years. You may also request for a Compliance Certificate as well
  • Make sure there is always sufficient fresh air wafting through your home
  • Do not use your gas heater for extended periods or overnight
  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm to enhance you and your family’s safety
  • Replace old heaters as soon as possible
  • Minimize your daily usage of unflued heaters
  • Don’t use an unflued heater in the confines of your bedroom

As you can see, carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that must not be trifled with or taken for granted in any way.

By following the tips highlighted in this article, your safety and that of your family is assured.

Default image
Safety Simplified: OHS, OSHA, Health, Safety And Environment Products, Resources and Courses. A Wide Range Of Tools, Courses, Downloadable Resources And Much More. All Topics Covered Including - Risk Assessment - Toolbox Talks - Safety Videos & Resources - HSE Management Plans - Emergency Response and more.
Articles: 4

Leave a Reply