The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

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Anyone who has a fireplace and chimney needs to be educated on the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. The risk comes from the fact that this gas is colorless and odorless, so you may be breathing it in without even knowing it. For this reason it is often called the ‘silent killer’. Here’s why you should always be concerned and take steps to protect your family.

Your family can breathe in this gas for a long period and you might confuse the symptoms for some type of illness. In small doses, carbon monoxide will not be immediately lethal, but long term exposure can leave you with lingering health complications. Some people have suffered permanent health problems as a result of long term inhalation of small amounts of carbon monoxide. These include:

  • Memory impairment
  • Heart ailments
  • Organ failure
  • Changes in behavior

Not surprisingly, children and elderly persons are most susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning, but anyone can be affected regardless of age. Long term, low exposure can eventually cause death as well due to the damage left behind.

This gas can also kill quite quickly if someone breathes in enough of it. When it enters the lungs it goes into the red blood cells, taking the place of oxygen. So the more the person takes in, the less oxygen will be in the blood cells. This keeps vital oxygen from reaching the body’s organs, causing them to shut down. Even if you recover from the carbon monoxide exposure, you could still face serious complications for the rest of your life.

Signs of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Recognizing these signs is important as it can lead to a quick response that can save lives. Some of the most common signs are:

  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Flu like symptoms
  • Confusion
  • Chest pains
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Upset stomach
  • Headaches

Any one of these signs could be linked to other causes, but they still should not be ignored.

It is worth noting that there are many other potential sources of this gas in the home. Using a generator in an enclosed space or burning any type of fuel can produce this gas. Gas refrigerators and some types of heaters have been known to increase the risk as well. Get your fireplace, chimney and wood burning stove checked frequently, and make sure that all fuel burning devices are in good working order.

Remember, it’s important that you have your fireplace inspected and cleaned at least once a year. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends that you hire a chimney inspector once a year even if you don’t use your chimney at all. It’s still a structure that can take damage during storms and create a dangerous situation. Give us a call here at Lou Curley’s Chimney Service at 610-626-2439 and we’ll schedule an appointment with one of our CSIA Certified chimney sweeps to ensure that your chimney is clean and in proper working order.

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