What Is CO?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odourless, colorless gas that interferes with the delivery of oxygen in the blood to the rest of the body. It is produced by the incomplete combustion of fuels.
What Are the Major Sources of CO?
CO is produced as a result of incomplete burning of carbon-containing fuels including coal, wood, charcoal, natural gas, and fuel oil. It can be emitted by combustion sources such as unvented kerosene and gas space heaters, furnaces, boilers, woodstoves, gas stoves, fireplaces and water heaters, vehicle exhaust from attached garages and tobacco smoke. Problems can arise as a result of improper installation and maintenance of the furnace and inadequate ventilation.
What Are the Health Effects?
Carbon monoxide interferes with the distribution of oxygen in the blood to the rest of the body. Depending on the amount inhaled, this gas can impede coordination, worsen cardiovascular conditions, and produce fatigue, headache, weakness, confusion, disorientation, nausea, and dizziness. Very high levels can cause death in minutes. The symptoms are sometimes confused with the flu or food poisoning. Foetuses, children, elderly, and people with heart and respiratory illnesses are particularly at high risk for the adverse health effects of carbon monoxide.
What Can Be Done to Prevent CO Poisoning?
- Annual Service & Safety inspections for heating systems, chimneys, and flues.
- Ensure that appliances are properly adjusted and working to manufacturers’ instructions.
- Open flues when fireplaces are in use.
- Do not use ovens and gas ranges to heat your home.
- Do not burn charcoal inside a home, tent or camper van.
- Make sure stoves and heaters are vented to the outside and that exhaust systems do not leak.
- Do not use unvented gas or kerosene space heaters in enclosed spaces.
- Never leave a car or lawn mower engine running in a shed or garage, or in any enclosed space.
- Make sure your boiler has adequate intake of outside air.
What if I think I have Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
- Don’t ignore symptoms, especially if more than one person is feeling them. If you think you are suffering from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, you should:
- Get fresh air immediately. Open doors and windows. Turn off appliances and leave the house.
- Seek medical attention (call 911 if required) and tell the doctor that you suspect CO poisoning.
Be prepared to answer the following questions:
Is anyone else in your household complaining of similar symptoms? Did everyone’s symptoms appear about the same time? Are you using any fuel-burning appliances or old furnace in the home? Has anyone inspected your appliances lately? Are you certain they are working properly?
What About Carbon Monoxide Detectors?
Carbon monoxide (CO) detectors can be used as a backup but not as a replacement for proper use and maintenance of your fuel-burning appliances and furnace Vancouver.