CO poisoning, also known as carbon monoxide poisoning, is a dangerous, potentially lethal problem that occurs when there is too much carbon monoxide in an enclosed space. This is commonly caused by inhaling combustion fumes, such as those coming out of the tailpipe of a car.
When CO enters the body, the oxygen in the red blood cells is replaced with carbon monoxide. This makes it so the body cannot transfer enough oxygen throughout it, which results in hypoxia. Serious tissue damage and death are possible with CO poisoning.
How can you recognize the CO is in the air?
It is difficult to know if CO is present, because it is a tasteless, odorless, colorless gas. Some gas companies add a scent to it through various means, but on the whole, it’s usually difficult to detect.
Instead of trying to recognize it by scent or appearance, you can tell if there is CO in the air by the way you feel. Low levels of carbon monoxide result in headaches. Then, as the illness progresses, it’s common to become nauseated. Following this, you may feel out of breath and get to a point where you feel dizzy or that you may collapse. If you feel this way, exit your home or vehicle into fresh air and call 911.
After collapsing, people often lose consciousness if they do not move to an area without the heavy level of carbon monoxide. When people lose consciousness within a toxic area, it is much more likely that they will continue to be poisoned and pass away as a result.
How can you prevent CO poisoning?
To prevent CO poisoning, the best bet is to avoid any improperly vented spaces. Tightly sealed and enclosed spaces are more likely to allow carbon monoxide to build to dangerous levels in that area, which could be fatal.
CO poisoning can lead to irreversible brain damage or death if someone cannot get to fresh air soon enough. If you or someone you know feel that you may be suffering the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning, call 911 and get into open air as soon as possible.