Carbon monoxide or CO is a colorless, odorless gas that, when inhaled, prevents the blood from carrying oxygen and prevents the tissues from using oxygen effectively.
Small amounts are not usually harmful, but poisoning occurs if levels of CO in the blood become too high.
The CDC estimates that approximately 400 people die from unintentional CO exposure in the United States every year. Data specific to Minnesota show that an average of 14 people die due to unintentional CO poisoning each year. The same data shows that another 307 people visit emergency department each year for treatment of symptoms linked to unintentional CO exposure.
Smoke from fires commonly contains CO, particularly when combustion of fuels is incomplete.
If improperly vented, automobiles, furnaces, hot water heaters, gas heaters, kerosene heaters, and stoves (including wood stoves and stoves with charcoal briquettes) can cause CO poisoning. Inhaling tobacco smoke produces CO in the blood, but usually not enough to result in symptoms of
poisoning. CO disappears from the blood after several hours.
The key is early detection and moving to fresh air – Buy CO alarms and install them in your home, it could save your life, especially if you use wood or gas heat. With CO poisoning you won’t have smoke to warn you, remember it is a colorless odorless gas. Buy, Install, and Test good quality CO detectors.
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