Dangerous carbon monoxide - how to avoid carbon monoxide?

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Chad, carbon monoxide, silent killer - each of these terms refers to gas that can leak in an apartment, business, garage or parking lot. Every year firefighters sound the alarm to beware - especially in winter - of "smoke". What does this term mean, why is carbon monoxide dangerous and how to avoid carbon monoxide? We explain!  

Chad at home - where is he from?

Carbon monoxide is a gas produced by the incomplete combustion of conventional fuels used, for example, to heat rooms or vehicles. These are mainly wood, liquefied petroleum gas (propane-butane used in gas bottles and cars), oil, crude oil, coal and kerosene.

"Incomplete combustion" is best represented by the example of a charcoal stove in which someone is trying to start a fire. To do this, he creates a fireplace from coal and firewood. In order for it to burn effectively, it is necessary to supply it with the right amount of oxygen - oxidation. When it is turned off, it is commonly referred to as "suffocating" the fire, which causes various problems associated with heating property. However, the most serious of these is the emission of carbon monoxide. The reason for such hypoxia of the firebox is usually the premature closing of the chamber or filling it with ash.

Other potential sources of carbon monoxide in the home are:

  • gas stove,
  • gas boiler,
  • fireplace,
  • gas stove,
  • oil oven,
  • gas engine car parked in a garage attached to the house,
  • or just fire - that's important because it turns out you don't even have to use a gas appliance or have a heating stove or fireplace to be exposed to carbon monoxide.

So what really makes you watch for a carbon monoxide leak? Why is carbon monoxide dangerous?

Why is carbon monoxide dangerous?

Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless and highly toxic to the human body. Even worse, it is slightly lighter than air, and therefore mixes with it very easily and imperceptibly. This causes people in an apartment where a carbon monoxide leak has occurred to start breathing carbon monoxide-laden air without knowing it. In such a situation, carbon monoxide poisoning is very likely.

Why is smoking dangerous? From its first seemingly harmless symptoms, such as a headache that can be mistaken for lack of sleep or too high blood pressure, it quickly develops into a serious problem. Carbon monoxide is called the "silent killer" for a reason - it can kill a person in just 3 minutes.

Coagulation – symptoms related to carbon monoxide

As already mentioned, the symptoms and consequences of black smoke are not very specific, which makes it difficult to prevent a tragedy. They are easy to confuse with illness, weakness or lack of sleep. Their type and intensity depend on the level of carbon monoxide concentration in the air (below a percentage):

  • 0,01-0,02% - a mild headache that occurs only after about 2 hours,
  • 0,16% - severe headache, vomiting; convulsions after 20 minutes; 2 hours later: death,
  • 0,64% - severe headache and vomiting after 1-2 minutes; after 20 minutes: death,
  • 1,28% - fainting after 2-3 breaths; 3 minutes later: death.

How not to smoke? 

It may seem that the easiest way to avoid carbon blackouts is to not connect a gas installation to the property, and also to forego a coal, wood or oil stove - and opt for electric heating. However, this solution is quite expensive and not everyone can afford it, and secondly, there is another potential source of carbon monoxide to be aware of: fire. Even the smallest, seemingly insignificant electrical short circuit can lead to a fire. Can you protect yourself from any accidents?

The risk of carbon monoxide leakage cannot be avoided. This does not mean, however, that you cannot protect yourself from poisoning with it. To avoid carbon monoxide, you should first of all equip your apartment, garage or room with a carbon monoxide detector. This is an inexpensive (even costs only a few zlotys) device that emits a loud alarm immediately after detecting too high a concentration of carbon monoxide in the air. In such a situation, you should immediately cover your mouth and nose, open all windows and doors and evacuate property, and then call 112.

In addition to installing a carbon monoxide detector, you should remember about regular technical inspections of gas and ventilation systems, as well as chimneys. Even the slightest breakdown of equipment that uses fuel and covers ventilation grilles cannot be ignored. It is also worth remembering about the current ventilation of rooms where fuel is burned (kitchen, bathroom, garage, etc.).

If you don't already have a detector, be sure to check out our guide to choosing this useful device: "Carbon monoxide detector - what you need to know before buying?" and "Carbon monoxide detector - where to install it?".

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