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carbon monoxide alarms
national fire protection
american medical association
carbon monoxide poisoning
journal of the american medical association
oxygen deprivation
brain function
critical levels
Carbon Monoxide Warnings And Why They Are Not Repeated Often Enough
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Carbon Monoxide Warnings And Why They Are Not Repeated Often Enough

According to a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, carbon monoxide poisoning kills nearly 500 Americans and nearly as many Canadians every year making it the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths. Thousands of other people are sent to the hospital because of the odorless gas every year. Often mistaken for the flu because of the early symptoms, carbon monoxide exposure can build gradually and lead to death or can happen much quicker. Across the US, fire departments reported that they had to respond to over sixty thousand carbon monoxide related incidents.

Long thought to be formed by only certain types of furnaces or heaters, it is important to know that CO2 is formed by the burning of different fuels including the most popular, natural gas, wood and kerosene. All heat sources need to be appropriately vented to prevent these types of incidents from happening and to keep carbon monoxide from reaching critical levels in the home.

Carbon monoxide is breathed in to the human body and forms the compound carboxyhemoglobin which prevents the body from getting enough oxygen into the system. At lower levels, this compound and the oxygen deprivation can lead to problems such as angina, impaired vision and reduced brain function. It can also cause lethargy which in turn can cause the person to sleep deeper and breath even more of the deadly gas. The higher the level of carbon monoxide in the system, the more likely the chance of dying becomes.

The National Fire Protection Association suggested using carbon monoxide alarms but caution that unless they are installed and maintained properly are not worth having. For proper placement, the NFPA suggested having at least one on each level of the home as well as outside of the sleeping areas. Unlike smoke detectors which are typically tested twice a year, the carbon monoxide testers should be tested more frequently, about once a month. In addition to using detectors to watch for rising levels of carbon monoxide, it is important to have the home's heating system checked yearly to make sure that it is not plugged in any way and that it is venting to the outside correctly. This should be done by a professional service, preferably one that is licensed in your state. Immediately discontinue use of any heating appliance that is malfunctioning and either replace or repair it before it is used again. If there is a carbon monoxide alarm, move everyone to a fresh air location before calling for assistance.

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