Carbon monoxide (CO) is one of the gases produced during certain forms of combustion. Anything that burns gas to operate, from your kitchen stove to your vehicle, produces carbon monoxide. In small amounts and well-ventilated spaces, exposure to CO is not a serious health concern.
However, when there is a high amount of CO in the air or when with someone has exposure in an enclosed space, the risks of an adverse reaction increase. Those who have lengthy exposure to carbon monoxide may eventually show warning signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. The symptoms of CO poisoning include weakness, nausea/upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, headaches and confusion.
Although carbon monoxide can affect your health at any time of the year, it is particularly dangerous during the winter months.
The systems that keep you comfortable can put you at risk
You rely on a hot water heater and a furnace, along with other environmental control systems, to make your home comfortable during the colder months. Unfortunately, when there are issues with the ventilation or problems with the devices used to heat your space or the water in your home, you may be at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that an average of 430 people die every year from CO poisoning, and roughly 50,000 people require emergency medical care because of CO exposure. The more active those systems are, the more likely they are to produce dangerous levels of CO gas in your home. During the winter months when such systems run constantly, the levels of CO could easily surpass the safe threshold and lead to people ending up in the hospital or even death.
How can you protect yourself?
Having regular inspections of the appliances and heating systems in your home can help you catch issues before they endanger your health. You may also want to install carbon monoxide detectors on every floor of the home. For those living in rental properties, their landlords should take these necessary steps to ensure that the premises are appropriately safe.
Some people may end up experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning because of a product failure or an irresponsible landlord. Taking action after carbon monoxide poisoning can protect those endangered by another person or a business.