Carbon monoxide poisoning can sneak up on victims without any warning because it is a colorless odorless gas, however, it is preventable once you know the warning signs and how to detect carbon monoxide build up early.
Below is everything you need to know about carbon monoxide and what you should do if you come into contact with the poisonous gas.
What is carbon monoxide? It’s an odorless, colorless gas that can be potentially fatal when someone is exposed to concentrated amounts of it. It’s usually produced when someone burns fuel in vehicles, boats, stoves, grills, generators and furnaces.
During hurricane season, improper generator use is the leading cause of CO poisoning. Generators should never be used indoors and should be placed away from the home and any windows or doors.
People who live on houseboats or large boat operators are also at risk for CO poisoning, according to the CDC. Larger boats sometimes have generators that vent toward the rear of the boat.
“This venting poses a danger of CO poisoning to people on the rear swim deck or water platform,” according to the CDC. “On larger boats CO builds up above the water near the water platform. CO that builds up in the air space beneath the stern deck or on and near the swim deck can kill someone in seconds.”
Read more about boating and CO safety here.
What are some of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning? According to the CDC, symptoms can include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. The poison can be deadly as it builds up in the bloodstream when someone breathes it in.
How to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning? The number one way to prevent CO poisoning is to install working carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home and in the garage.
For boaters, the CDC recommends installing and maintaining a working CO detector listed by Underwriters’ Laboratories as appropriate for marine use inside the boat.
Other suggestions from the CDC include: not using generators in your home, paying attention to the smell of gas in the home, making sure gas appliances are being serviced each year, never patching a vent pipe, never using a gas stove to heat a space, not sitting in an idling car for extended periods of time, and not burning charcoal indoors.
What to do if you have been exposed? If you suspect you or someone you know is experiencing any symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, go outside immediately and get to fresh air. To let out the fumes, open the doors and windows and turn off any gas appliances.