Your choice of heat can kill you without singeing a hair.

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Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, so it’s difficult to detect. It’s the leading cause of poisoning deaths and causes up to 5,000 fatal incidents in USA each year. If you’re wondering if your home could be in danger, there are a few things which you can look out for: When you’re camping or the heat goes off, it’s important to be aware that making a fire may not be as safe as you think. Unless you have a working chimney, makeshift heating may be your greatest danger.

Carbon Monoxide Sources

Carbon monoxide (CO) is not directly emitted but instead, is generated when fuels like coal or natural gas are burned. This includes

To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning from household heating, have a working carbon monoxide monitor on every floor, and make sure your heating units get checked regularly for leaks.

  • gas (diesel, gasoline for the car, kerosene, propane)
  • paper
  • candles
  • coal
  • charcoal
  • wood

There are many heating sources other than pure electricity and if you aren’t venting the fumes outside, they might lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Be sure to have an airtight venting system installed so no fumes can escape.

Some supposedly haunted houses have been explained by hallucinations from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Signs and Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

You might feel flu-like symptoms without a fever—headaches, drowsiness, heart palpitations are some of the common ones. People can also experience depression or hallucinations with prolonged exposure to small doses. Some supposedly haunted houses have been explained by the residents’ chronic carbon monoxide poisoning and resultant hallucinations.

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Treatment for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The general treatment for hyperventilation is pure oxygen. If you have a tank, use that. If not, go outside to get fresh air. Of course, call an ambulance if needed and the paramedics are available.

How Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Works

Carbon monoxide is lethal because it replaces the oxygen in your body. It sticks on to the red blood cells, where the oxygen should be, and won’t let go. Breathing in carbon dioxide slowly deprives your body of essential oxygen and you never even feel out of breath. It can be easy to let something like CO go unnoticed until it’s too late which is what makes it so dangerous. You may end up like that frog in the frying pan, slowly boiling to death yet not even realizing it until it’s too late.

As for the best ways to vent, I’m not an expert. Would you be able to send me some tips?

Photo credit: David Keyzer

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