Carbon Monoxide FAQs

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Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The following are questions and answers regarding carbon monoxide poisoning. Please read on to learn how early warning can help save your life.

What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, deadly gas. Because you can't see, taste, or smell it, carbon monxoide can kill you before you know it's there. Today's more energy efficient, airtight home designs contribute to the problem by trapping CO-poluuted air inside the home.

Why is carbon monoxide dangerous?

The great danger of CO is its attraction to hemoglobin in the bloodstream. CO is breathed in through the lungs, and bonds with hemoglobin in your blood, displacing the oxygen which cells need to function. When CO is present in the air it rapidly accumulates in the blood. It will eventually displace enough oxygen in your system to suffocate you from the inside out, resulting in brain damage or death.

Where does carbon monoxide occur?

Everyone is at risk. CO poisoning can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere. Experts believe that vulnerability to CO poisoning increases for unborn babies, infants, senior citizens, and people with coronary or respiratory problems. These people are considered to be at greatest risk.

How can I protect myself from carbon monoxide poisoning?

The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends installing at least one CO detector per household. Reliable, cost-effective protection from carbon monoxide poisoning is available from local hardware stores. "Carbon monoxide detectors are as important to home safety as smoke detectors."

How do I know if I am suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning?

CO poisoning is difficult to diagnose. Because its symptoms are similar to other common diseases, such as the flu, carbon monoxide is often called "The Great Imitator". Symptoms of low level CO poisoning can include headaches, fatigue, nausea, dizzy spells, and confusion. There are, however, a few hints that can help.

To identify carbon monoxide poisoning in your home:

Are other members of the household feeling ill as well?

Do you feel better when you are away from the house for a period of time?

If so, you may be suffering from CO poisoning. To be sure, see a physician and request a carboxy hemoglobin test. This will determine percentage of carbon monoxide in your blood.

What do I do if my carbon monoxide detector goes off?

If you and/or your family members are feeling ill, get out of the house immediately. Have a plan that includes a pre-designated meeting place so that all family members can be accounted for. (Most fatalities occur when people re-enter the home to search for loved ones). Call 911 from a neighbor's phone or a mobile phone outside of the house.

If you feel it is not an emergency, yet want to have someone check out your home, call the Mayfield Village Fire Department at our non-emergency number 440.461.1208 to discuss the problem.

Where do I put my carbon monoxide detector?

Near the sleeping area, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which recommends at least one detector per household. A second detector located near the home's heating source adds an extra measure of safety.

Where does Carbon Monoxide (CO) come from?

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a product of the combustion process and is produced whenever fuels burn incompletely (Gasoline, wood, propane, natural gas, coal and oil are a few common fuel sources).  In your home, heating and cooking equipment including ovens and stoves, grills, fireplaces, gas clothes dryers and water heaters can all be sources of carbon monoxide.  Vehicles and gasoline powered tools and equipment are also sources.