Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gas that can be produced by incomplete combustion when carbon-based materials are burned such as wood, propane, charcoal, natural gas, oil, gasoline and kerosene. CO mixes freely with the air we breathe.
It has no odor or color, however some components of combustion do have an odor and may indicate a potential carbon monoxide problem.
Your first line of defense against CO is to make sure your system is properly installed and vented, in good working order, and inspected every year by a licensed heating contractor.
When does carbon monoxide become a problem?
According to the U.S. Office of Safety and Health Administration, CO becomes a problem when it builds up in your home and the concentration rises to more than 50 parts per million for eight hours or more.
At high levels, CO is deadly. It combines with hemoglobin -- the red component of your blood which transports oxygen to your cells -- and prevents oxygen from being circulated. Older people, young children, people with heart and respiratory problems and small pets are particularly susceptible.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Symptoms are like the flu: headaches, dizziness, vomiting or nausea, weakness and tightness of the chest.
Be suspicious if all members of your family share the same symptoms and the symptoms clear up when you're outside the house. If you are unable to determine the cause, call a licensed heating contractor or our emergency number, 402.554.7777.
If you suspect carbon monoxide:
- Check to see if anyone is experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide. If anyone is overcome by CO, call 911.
- Do not panic. Get everyone out of the building.