A: Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-irritating toxic gas. CO is slightly lighter than air and does not stratify and is often referred to as the "silent killer." Properly working gas appliances are very safe, so your first line of defense against carbon monoxide (CO) is to have your furnace inspected annually, either by Laclede or your heating contractor.
A: CO is produced by incomplete combustion of carbon based fuels. This incomplete combustion can only occur when there is not enough oxygen mixed with the fuel at combustion.
A: The concentration of carbon monoxide in the blood is measured by percentage carboxyhemoglobin (%COHb). This is the degree to which the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood is impeded by the union of carbon monoxide to the hemoglobin. %COHb is effected by both the concentration of the CO in the air and the length of exposure.
A: Some of the symptoms of CO poisoning are nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, persistent cough, fatigue, eye and upper respiratory tract irritation, and wheezing.
A: CO-related deaths account for an approximately 0.2% of the approximate 2 millions deaths per year in the US. Of those CO deaths, suicides account for 47.8%, fires 21.9%, motor vehicle exhaust 9.5%, domestic fuels 2.8%, homicides 1.5%, and pipeline gas 1.1%.
A: The #1 possible source in a house is the attached car garage. Other possible sources may be any malfunctioning fuel burning appliance, wood burning fireplaces, furnaces or water heaters with a blocked chimney, or any appliance that is designed for outside use being used inside.
A: You need three things for CO to become a hazard, 1) CO being produced, 2) CO gas released into a structure, and 3) CO being inhaled. If any one of these is missing CO is not a hazard.
A: There are several myths about CO. First myth - cracks in a heat exchanger can produce CO. This is not true. A crack in the heat exchanger can cause CO to circulate through the house if it is being produced but will not cause the production of the CO. Second myth - there is always CO in the flue gases - not true. A normal operating appliance will produce no CO. There is no such thing as normal levels of CO produced by heating equipment.
A: There are several things you can do to prevent CO poisoning; 1) have an annual inspection of all fuel burning appliances and flues prior to the heating season, 2) keep all appliances clean, 3) allow combustion air to all appliances, 4) do not run a car in an attached garage, and 5) install a CO Detector.
A: The most important thing to look for when purchasing a CO Detector is the UL 2034 - 1997 listing label and the IAS Supplemental to UL 2034 IAS-6-96.
A: When you purchase a CO Detector it will have detailed instructions where it should be located and what to do if it goes off. Read and follow these instructions carefully. To ensure your safety and the safety of your family, contact your local fire department whenever a CO Detector goes off.
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