Carbon monoxide or CO risks are going to affect anyone who lives in this world. The causes of CO are many and varied, ranging from natural causes like volcanos and forest fires to manmade causes like generators and internal combustion engines. Therefore, there’s no escaping it for us. That doesn’t mean we should be afraid of it, just that we need to be smart about how we handle this knowledge that carbon monoxide is everywhere. So first we must understand the sources of CO, the ways it affects us, and how we can reduce our exposure to the gas.
A few of the sources of CO are stated above. The true source is the consumption of fossil fuels, in which there is limited oxygen in the air. There is a portion of carbon monoxide in the air we breathe even if we’re in the rural middle of nowhere. In the world we live in, there is carbon monoxide produced in many locations. Disregarding the industrial causes, our homes produce them in great concentrations. Everything from your outdoor charcoal barbecue and lawn mower to your car in the garage to your kitchen appliances to your wood fire in your fireplace causes CO in your home. Therefore, the CO risks we face are plentiful, so the situation is not to be taken too lightly.
Poisoning Effects on Health
Our health can be drastically affected by carbon monoxide poisoning. When you breathe it in, it gets into your bloodstream and dampens the ability your blood has to carry oxygen through your bodily organs and systems. The results can be quite varied. Mild poisoning will manifest with symptoms like headaches, nausea, and exhaustion. When you are more seriously poisoned, whether that is chronic or acute, your symptoms will be much worse. Disorientation, mental problems, seizures, decreased blood pressure, increased heart rate, neurological problems, loss of consciousness, and ultimately loss of life are the consequences you can expect from CO poisoning. These are going to be accelerated for those who have weaker health, particularly if you already have neurological problems or heart problems.
Even with these great risks and the severe consequences of CO poisoning, it’s still relatively uncommon because we’ve learned how to reduce our exposure to it. You can do your part to minimize your own likelihood of being poisoned by carbon monoxide. If you live in an older home, you’ll want to replace some of your devices or at least have them inspected by a certified professional. No matter how old your home is or your appliances are, have them inspected annually before the winter months so that any problems can be fixed. Don’t run the gas for longer than you have to, reduce the use of a heater, have your chimney cleaned out frequently, and keep your home well ventilated to allow CO to flow outward and up into the air. Most importantly, install a carbon monoxide detector in your home so that you can be warned the minute the gas concentration rises to risky levels.
Don’t let CO risks prevent you from living a full and comfortable life. Just install a CO alarm and follow smart behaviors to reduce your exposure, and you should be safe from any of the symptoms listed above.