Cold weather Increases Chances of Carbon Monoxide

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Cold weather Increases Chances of Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide

Temperatures in the next few days are predicted to continue to be the coldest of the winter so far, which increases the risk of carbon monoxide.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, carbon monoxide often called the silent killer, is responsible for more than 20,000 visit the emergency room and more than 4,000 hospitalizations. Carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless and tasteless, making leaks and buildups difficult to notice.

Signs of carbon monoxide poisoning

Carbon monoxide enters the air through a variety sources like:

  • car exhaust
  • indoor charcoal grills
  • furnaces
  • other devices powered by fossil fuels

Complicating its detection even more, the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning resemble those of flu, cold or infection.

  • ringing in the ears
  • headache
  • nausea
  • weakness and/or dizziness

All could indicate that a person is being poisoned by carbon monoxide. Because these symptoms are often associated with less serious illnesses, many people who are overexposed to carbon monoxide mistakenly think they’re catching a seasonal bug. In many cases, the affected person will lie down or rest to feel better. Some never wake up.

Exposure to carbon monoxide can be especially problematic for young children. Because kids have faster heartbeats and accelerated breathing rates, carbon monoxide can spread through their bodies quickly and poison them in less time than it takes to affect adults.

Carbon Monoxide & Vehicles

When cold engines first start, they run rich. The catalytic converter is cold and not converting deadly carbon monoxide (CO) to carbon dioxide (CO2). Concentrations in the exhaust can be more than 80,000 parts per million. Concentrations so large fill the garage with carbon monoxide in a very short time even with the door open. Once the car is backed out of the garage and the garage door closed, large concentrations of gas still remain trapped in the garage. In a house built with an attached garage, part of the gas then seeps into the house where it remains for hours.

To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning from vehicles:

  • NEVER run engines in a garage, even if the garage door is open.
  • Make certain all vehicles are tuned up and running clean.
  • Check and repair exhaust system leaks.

When starting a car and leaving from the garage:

  • Make certain everyone is in the car and ready to leave.
  • Open the overhead garage door before starting the car.
  • Start the car and immediately back out.
  • Shut the garage door.
  • Immediately drive away. Consult the owner’s manual for recommendations when driving with a cold engine.

Never pre-warm a vehicle indoors

Install a carbon-monoxide detector

A lot of people assume that one carbon-monoxide detector is adequate for the whole house, but, like smoke detectors, experts say every floor of a building should be fitted with a battery-powered or hardwired carbon-monoxide detector. Battery-powered models are as reliable as the wired ones, as long as the batteries are checked regularly and replaced at least once a year.

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