Is Carbon Monoxide Really That Dangerous?

In a word: “Yes”. So there you go. Question answered. No need to read any further. But, and this is a big but, people die every year from carbon monoxide poisoning. So maybe the answer is not as simple as you think. The folks here at GAMA Air really care about our friends and neighbors in and around Beverly Hills, Culver City, Mar Vista, Miracle Mile, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Los Angeles, West Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey, Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, Bel Air, Westwood, Downtown Los Angeles, Vernon, Huntington Park, Sherman Oaks, Encino, so please take a moment to read about this serious topic.

Carbon Monoxide (or “CO” for its molecular structure) is a gas that is odorless, tasteless and invisible. It is known as ‘The Silent Killer’ because at sufficiently high levels it can kill a person in just minutes, even though you don’t know it is there. Reports indicate that this is it the leading cause of poisoning death with hundreds dying each year from Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Of those deaths about 1/3 are caused by a fuel burning heating system. Here are some quick facts about Carbon Monoxide:

How could Carbon Monoxide get into my home?

Carbon monoxide is produced whenever a fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood or charcoal is burned. A properly functioning burner, using any of such fuels, has efficient combustion and produces very little CO. However, if the burner is out-of-adjustment it can produce life-threatening amounts of CO without any visible warning signs. When heating (and cooking) appliances are not working properly or are used incorrectly, dangerous levels of CO can collect in your home.

A properly functioning heating system will vent the combustion gases out of your home. But accumulation of these gases can also occur when a blocked chimney, rusted heat exchanger or broken chimney connector pipe prevents all the combustion gases from being exhausted. CO also can enter the home from an idling car or from a lawnmower or generator engine operating in the garage.

Perhaps you have read our 10-part series on making your home more energy efficient. After making improvements that result in a tighter, more energy efficient house, there could be more opportunity for CO to build up if your gas-burning appliances are not venting properly. If you have gas- or oil-fired appliances, such as a boiler, furnace, water heater, clothes dryer, or even a stove/oven and have recently sealed air leaks in your home, please call a qualified heating service company to check that the combustion fumes are being properly vented. Here at GAMA Air we would be happy to help. Give our office a call at (310) 651-6936, or use our online form to request a visit.

What are symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning?

The initial symptoms of CO poisoning may make you think you have the flu but without a fever. At low (but unsafe) levels they include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea. At slightly higher levels symptoms include dizziness, vomiting, disorientation, and loss of consciousness. If you seem to have one or more of these symptoms try going outside. If you feel better, but then the symptoms return when you go back inside, you may have CO poisoning.

Stay tuned for further information on how to protect your family from the Silent Killer!

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