On January 2, 2019, two people living in Avon, Connecticut ended up in the hospital due to higher levels of carbon monoxide in their homes. Sadly, it’s only one of the many cases of carbon monoxide poisoning in the country. Some of them won’t even make it.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this type of injury results in more than 15,000 emergency visits and 4,000 hospitalizations each year. Within the same period, at least 400 Americans die.
Why Is Carbon Monoxide Dangerous?
Carbon monoxide poisoning is perhaps one of the misunderstood types of injuries in the country. Not many people understand how and why it happens in the first place.
Carbon monoxide is a type of gas that develops when carbon meets with oxygen. In the homes, carbon usually comes from various heating systems. These include boilers, stoves, furnaces, and chimneys.
During combustion, the carbon from these sources will then combine with oxygen. But the process can get tricky. When there’s enough oxygen available, such as there’s proper ventilation, then the by-product is carbon dioxide.
When the combustion is incomplete, and there’s not enough space for the gas to go out, the mixture might only produce carbon monoxide. This type of gas is odorless and colorless, which means you will never know it’s there unless you start experiencing the symptoms such as dizziness, vomiting, and shortness of breath. Over time, it may worsen to confusion, blurred vision, and even death.
This is because it binds strongly to the oxygen in the bloodstream when you inhale it. It then prevents the blood from transporting the important gas to the different parts of the body.
What Should You Do?
In Connecticut, the temperature can drop or be chilly, so it’s nearly impossible to live in a home without proper heating. What you need is to make sure that your heat sources are working well.
For example, you should have a regular chimney cleaning in Connecticut. Some people wrongly believe that fireplaces already possess excellent ventilation because of the chimneys.
They don’t realize that soot, dust, and other particles can still accumulate on the walls and the liners. As they build up, they can limit the combustion process. They restrict the amount of gas that should leave the house.
Perhaps you think that the state is already in spring. Granted, studies show there’s a strong correlation between winter and the number of poisoning cases.
A 2016 study that appeared in the Archives of Environmental & Occupational Health, however, revealed outbreaks of carbon monoxide poisoning associated with storms. During this period, power outages can occur, forcing homeowners to use their traditional heating systems such as fireplaces to provide warmth.
Not everyone exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning dies, but it doesn’t mean the effects wear off. A study in Lifespan said that it might cause long-lasting damage to the heart. It can persist even after doctors can successfully remove the gas from the body.
Prevention then is always better than cure, especially in this case. Provide proper ventilation and see to it your heating systems are in good condition.