Carbon Monoxide (CO), a.k.a. "The Silent Killer", is one of the byproducts of burning fuel. It is odorless, tasteless, colorless, and the symptoms of poisoning don't show themselves right away. But prolonged exposure to dangerous levels of CO can have serious health consequences.
It's estimated that 40,000 or more people annually in the United States seek treatment for carbon monoxide poisoning. The worst part about that fact is that the best treatment for this condition is still highly debated among medical professionals. That aside, let me tell you what the symptoms are, and what it does to your body. And first let me preface: I am not a doctor. I am not qualified in the medical industry. But I sell the fuel whose byproduct can be dangerous, and I wanted to share what I know.
As you can see above, Carbon Monoxide Poisoning can cause a wide variety of symptoms. And from some of the "less serious" symptoms shown, you can see how someone could mistake CO Poisoning with the flu or a head cold.
Regardless of whether you heat your home with natural gas, propane, heating oil, natural wood, or pellets, carbon monoxide can be a danger to you.
3 PREVENTION TIPS
1. Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors. They're not the cheapest things to buy, but how much is your safety worth? Here is the recommendation direct from the CDC:
"Install a battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. Place your detector where it will wake you up if it alarms, such as outside your bedroom. Consider buying a detector with a digital readout. This detector can tell you the highest level of CO concentration in your home in addition to alarming. Replace your CO detector every five years."
Additionally, I recommend that you hire a professional to perform an in-home test if you suspect unsafe levels of CO. Check with your local heat provider about installing a CO detector in your home.
2. Have Regular Maintenance Performed on Your Gas Appliances. This promotes safe operation of your equipment, and helps to reduce overall CO output.
3. Educate Yourself and Your Family. A little knowledge goes a long way in keeping you and your loved ones safe from the Silent Killer.
For more information about carbon monoxide, feel free to start with the following links:
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning - Wikipedia
Centers for Disease Control