Carbon Monoxide Poisoning is a Toxic Silent Killer

Aug 10, 2021 | From The CEO

Every day we are all at risk due to this colorless and odorless but toxic silent killer that is carbon monoxide. In today’s article

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon Monoxide or “CO” is a colorless and odorless gas that can be lethal. It is very poisonous once it is in the air and inhaled. Your body will replace oxygen in your red blood cells with Carbon Monoxide. It will start to attack your blood, then your tissues, and eventually can cause death. These can be produced by an innocent burning of gasoline, charcoal, propane, and/or wood. Inappropriately ventilated appliances such as Clothes Dryer, furnaces or broilers, gas stoves, grills, generators, power tools, or wooden stoves may allow carbon monoxide to be collected to a dangerous level.

Did You Know? There are at least 20,000 reported emergency visits in the hospital about non-fire-related carbon monoxide poisoning. And the death toll goes up to at least 400 per year.

Symptoms Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The poisoning starts in the first 2 hours of exposure, although long-term exposure to very low levels of carbon monoxide can even lead to neurological problems, like lack of focus and disorientation that can cause irreversible brain damage.

  1. Dull Headache
  2. Loss of Consciousness
  3. Blurred Vision
  4. Nausea or Vomiting
  5. Weakness
  6. Shortness of Breath

Dependent on the degree and length of exposure, carbon monoxide can have adverse effects:

  1. Permanent Brain Damage
  2. Damage on heart, and there is a possibility of life threaten cardiac complication

Am I At Risk?

Everyone is at risk of CO poisoning. Infants, the elderly people, the people who have a chronic heart condition, people that have problems with breathing. 

  • Unborn Babies – fetus’ blood cells take up CO faster than adults. Unborn babies – more susceptible to this kind of poisoning.
    • Exposure to CO can cause severe damage during pregnancy. It dissolves in the plasma that gets included in the fetus’s hemoglobin.
  • Children – Kids breathe faster and more frequently than adults. 
    • Carbon monoxide can develop in your children’s bodies and will replace Oxygen in their blood. Your children’s organs such as the brain, heart, and other tissue will take on damage due to lack of proper oxygen.
  • Older adults – are more susceptible to having damage to their brains.
    • Seniors are at times can be forgetful and mostly living on their own. We need to set up alarms that can notify us personally or the neighbor. They at times remove their hearing aids that make it impossible to hear the alarm at night. 
  • People Chronic Heart Diseases – Anemic patients 
    • Oxygen deprivation is one of the effects of being exposed to carbon Monoxide.
    • Normally, our heartbeat depends on the electrical impulse throughout our hearts. But when CO is introduced, this initially disrupts these impulses leading to your heart beating abnormally.

Safety Tips Against CO Poisoning

  1. CO alarms – This alarm should be installed somewhere in the middle of the ceiling outside of bedrooms. Or any other location required or applicable by law.
    1. Alarm systems such as CO Alarms can be integrated into your Smart House System. And should be able to have the following:
      1. Panic Buttons – fast and simple way to call for assistance
      2. Automated SOS Request
      3. Alert Management
    2. Air Sampling Smoke Detectors are helpful in cases like these. Understanding that carbon monoxide is directly connected to fire hazards, knowing some fire safety tips will be beneficial.
  2. Install alarms that have the capability to use battery back-ups.
  3. Make sure that your alarm has recognition by a legitimate laboratory.
  4. If your alarms go off – make sure that you step outside to get fresh air immediately. Never run to your car and/or fuel engines. 
  5. In case of snow – make sure that your vents, dryer, furnace, and fireplace are cleared of snow build-up.
  6. A generator should be placed and used in a very well-ventilated location like the outdoors.
    1. Make sure that maintain your generator properly. Here are some tips:
      1. Run your generator every few months – this will make sure it is in good working condition
      2. Routinely check the fuels of your generator
      3. Check your fuel lines 
      4. Safely Stock oil
      5. Replace and clean your filters.
      6. Check on the spark plugs.
  7. If you need to warm up your car – make sure to do it outside your garage. Never run your engine inside the house and make sure that your exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not covered or blocked by snow or anything that can cause the smoke to go back inside the vehicle.
    1. Here are a few tips you can follow for your exhaust pipe maintenance.
      1. Always use a dry towel to clean your pipes from soot or grease outside the muffler.
      2. Use the dishwashing soap to a quart of water.
      3. Make sure that you dry your muffler completely
      4. If not certain ask a professional to have it maintained.
  8. Make sure that your gas pipes, heating systems, water heater, and any other pipes are serviced and maintained by a professional.
  9. Never use tape and/or gum to fix a pipe or line issue on your car.
  10. Gas-related equipment should only be bought from legitimate stores that are connected to an authorized laboratory.
  11. Do not use the stove oven or gas range for manual heating if you are in a cabin or camper van.
  12. If you are indoors, never use a portable gas stove.
    1. Although a lot of documents say that it is safe to use inside the house, the risk of propane gas cans leaking is higher than that of a gas pipeline. A certain mistake of placing the can in the wrong way can create gas leaks and you have already inhaled CO before you can replace it.
  13. Do not burn or use charcoal for cooking inside your house.
  14. If you smell anything bad from your air conditioning or refrigerator, call a professional serviceman to check up on it.
    1. The smell can be a strong scent of ammonia, this is a sign that there is a possible leak on your refrigerator. If this is the case, you need to have it fixed right away. 
  15. Make sure that your chimney or fireplace is well maintained yearly.
    1. Hire a licensed specialist to make sure that your fireplace or chimney is cleared from snow, dried leaves, or grease that can create a blockage that might result from smoke going back inside your house. Click Here to learn more about fireplace maintenance.

Carbon Monoxide Treatment

If you are exposed to CO, the best thing you can do is immediately go out for fresh air, but if you were exposed to your work for a long time, a doctor can place you under pure oxygenation, meaning they will be treating your oxygen level to get rid of any carbon monoxide in your blood cells. They will most likely put a mask over your mouth and nose, to make sure you get your oxygen level higher.

Carbon Monoxide Liabilities

There are a lot of things to consider if people are exposed to CO due to negligence. 

Known as a “silent killer” – Carbon Monoxide is one of the leading causes of accidental poisoning across the United States. Long Exposure may differ results like but not only specific to fatigue, loss of focus, irregularity in a heartbeat, loss or damage, or death.

If you are a landlord, business owner, or building owner; you have a legal obligation to avert carbon monoxide poisoning. Testing, usage of carbon monoxide alarms, and being compliant with building codes protect your renters from this killer gas.

If proven with negligence; people are entitled to be compensated for their injuries.

What Would Merit Negligence?

A property owner can commit dereliction of duty about owning a rental property in several ways. Examples may include but are not limited to:

  1. Failure to clean the chimney and/or fireplace, causing the smoke to go back inside the house
  2. Not fixing or failing to maintain and/or broken or faulty water heater.
  3. Failure to maintain or clean gas oven or gas ranges
  4. Not fixing faulty boilers.

Before You Go:

The important thing to remember is here is that a lot of these incidents can be avoided if the tips provided are followed properly. And if ever that there was an event that you or your family was exposed to carbon monoxide, that it is better to consult your doctors to get better advice so you and your family can recover faster. But you know what they always say… “Prevention is Better than Cure”

We’re Here to Help

If you are looking for a good independent agent in Denver, Colorado who is familiar with the policies and coverages you need, give us a chance! Advantage Insurance Solutions is here to help! We can tailor your coverage to your specific needs. We can maximize protection while minimizing cost. We can also suggest ways that you can adjust your coverage to take advantage of discounts that insurers give for packaged policies. Call us now at 720-221-8168!