Part two – carbon monoxide - the silent killer – Nighthawk KN-COP-C User Manual

Page 12

background image

Part Two – Carbon Monoxide -
The Silent Killer

What is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas creat-
ed when any fuel is burned – gasoline, propane, natural gas, oil,
wood, coal, and even tobacco. When combustion air is limited, more
CO is produced. Serious problems can develop when combustion
by-products are not properly vented outside the house.

You’ve probably heard about carbon monoxide poisoning in the
news recently. It’s a problem receiving more attention because
groups like the American Lung Association and the Consumer
Product Safety Commission have made it a priority to warn the pub-
lic about the dangers of this deadly household poison.

What are the Effects of CO Exposure?
When you breathe carbon monoxide, it enters your bloodstream
through your lungs and attaches to red blood cells. These red blood
cells, called hemoglobin, carry oxygen throughout your body. Carbon
monoxide molecules attach to the red blood cells 200 times faster
than oxygen, preventing the flow of oxygen to your heart, brain and
vital organs. As carbon monoxide accumulates in your bloodstream,
your body becomes starved for oxygen. The amount of carbon
monoxide in a person’s body can be measured by a simple blood
test, called a “carboxyhemoglobin level” test.

The early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are often mistak-
en for the flu – headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting,
sleepiness, and confusion.

Breathing very high concentrations of carbon monoxide can be lethal
in minutes. Breathing low concentrations over time is dangerous, too.
Long term exposure to low levels could cause permanent heart and
brain damage.

Could Your Family be at Risk for CO Poisoning?
Carbon monoxide is the number one cause of poisoning deaths in
the United States. According to the Mayo Clinic, at least 10,000
Americans are affected by CO poisoning each year.

While anyone is susceptible, experts agree that unborn babies, small
children, senior citizens and people with heart or respiratory prob-
lems are especially vulnerable to CO and are at the greatest risk for
death or serious injury.

Where Does CO Come From?
Inside your home, appliances used for heating and cooking are the
most likely sources of carbon monoxide. Vehicles running in attached
garages can also produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.

Part Two – Carbon Monoxide -
The Silent Killer

A by-product of combustion, carbon monoxide can be a potential
problem from a number of common sources – automobiles,
furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces, wood stoves, charcoal grills, gas
ranges, space heaters and portable generators.

When these appliances are in good working condition with proper
ventilation, lethal carbon monoxide gas is vented outdoors where it
quickly disperses. But even the slightest malfunction or misuse of any
of these sources can lead to a build-up of carbon monoxide in your
home that can become deadly before you’d even know it’s there.

And you don’t have to have ancient appliances to have a problem.
Today’s more energy-efficient, airtight home designs can trap CO-pol-
luted air inside where it can quickly build to lethal levels.

What Can You do to Protect Your Family?
To be safe, know the possible sources of CO in your home. Keep
fuel-burning appliances and their chimneys and vents in good work-
ing condition. Learn the early symptoms of exposure, and if you sus-
pect carbon monoxide poisoning, move outside to fresh air and get
emergency help. A blood test can confirm that CO caused the prob-

Your first line of defense is an annual inspection and regular mainte-
nance of your appliances. Contact a licensed contractor or call your
local utility company for assistance.

But remember, problems can begin after an inspection is over, like a
crack in a furnace heat exchanger, or a leak in a water heater vent or
a bird’s nest blocking a flue. Other sources are nearly impossible to
detect: even a change in the air pressure outside can turn a normally
safe situation deadly. That’s why you need the 24-hour protection
provided by a CO alarm.



810-1009 AC Digital 11/13/01 11:22 AM Page 22

This manual is related to the following products: