Carbon Monoxide Awareness

As a home owner, it is important to be aware of all the potential issues that occur in the home. One such potential issue is those of car ports which can be found at the side of the house. Car ports are a very convenient addition to a house but they can be problematic due to potential carbon monoxide poisoning.

Many people are not aware of a potential issue with car ports built to the side of the house. There are some home owners who, for various reasons, add vents from the car port into the house, or for the matter, a passageway for any other requirement.

The problem with having any kind of ventilation or hole from the car port to the home is that it creates a passageway for carbon monoxide gas. Many people do not have a full understanding of carbon monoxide think that carbon monoxide poisoning can only happen from fuel burning appliances but it can also be cause by car exhaust fumes.

Car exhausts emit carbon monoxide and when a car is left with the engine running in the car port, carbon monoxide gases will build up inside the port. Now, if there are any passageways, vents etc running into the house there is the potential for this carbon monoxide to enter the house. Once it enters the house, it can be breathed in and we know
that carbon monoxide has no taste, in colourless and odourless so there is no way for the effected persons to know they are being exposed.

To ensure your home is safe, ensure there are no vents, or paths from the car port into the home. Of course, ensure a carbon monoxide detector is installed and it will then alert you to any carbon monoxide gas in the home.

Understanding Carbon Monoxide

Understanding Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide or CO is basically a colourless gas that’s slightly less dense compared to air. Although it is odourless and tasteless, it is toxic to humans and animals, especially when encountered in high concentrations. It is short lived and partially variable in the atmosphere, consisting of Carbon and Oxygen atoms that are connected to each other by covalent bonds.

How is Carbon Monoxide Produced?

Carbon monoxide is produced through partial oxidation of compounds containing carbon. It comes into existence when a reaction doesn’t have sufficient oxygen to produce a gas known as carbon dioxide. Cases where the gas is produced include when internal combustion engines that are placed in an enclosed room burn, or when one operating a stove. It is also produced by burning fuel in trucks and cars, grills, lanterns, fireplaces and furnaces.

How toxic is Carbon Monoxide?

CO gas is very toxic to humans and animals. When inhaled, it combines with a person’s hemoglobin, producing carboxyhemoglobin, a compound that tends to occupy the space that oxygen is carried on, making it very difficult for the blood to supply oxygen to body organs. According to research, some CO also binds to molecules such as myoglobin, causing significant damage to central nervous system and the heart.
CO causes several symptoms, some of which can be life threatening if left unchecked. Some of the symptoms on is likely to experience include confusion, chest pain, vomiting, upset stomach, weakness, dizziness and headaches. When inhaled in large quantities, one may become unconscious or dead.

Generally, everyone is at risk from poisoning of this gas. However, people suffering from chronic heart disease, breathing problems and anemia are more likely to be affected most by CO poisoning. The elderly, infants and pregnant women are also at a great risk from CO poisoning.

How to Prevent CO poisoning

Since CO poisoning can be fatal, people are advised to follow a set of instructions ion order to prevent any serious encounters with the gas. It is recommended that people choose only qualified technicians to service their heating systems on an annual basis. When purchasing gas equipment, only go for equipments that carry a national agency seal to ensure it is tested and approved for use. Chimneys can also get blocked by debris, causing CO build up. As such, have it checked and cleaned regularly. Also, avoid burning charcoal inside the house, garage or basement as it may produce large amounts of CO.