What's The Best Way To Protect Yourself From Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

updated 
June 2024

A carbon monoxide (CO) detector is a device that monitors the presence of CO in your home. It uses a sensor to measure CO levels and alerts you if it detects any.

This article will discuss the importance of having one installed in your home, as well as what symptoms to look out for so you know when you need to get help. Finally, we’ll explore some of the reasons why this could be important for your health.

What is carbon monoxide poisoning and how does it affect the body

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an odourless, colourless gas that can cause a person to become sick or die. The carbon monoxide levels in homes are usually very low and not a risk, but high carbon monoxide levels from home sources, such as appliances, fireplaces or even tobacco smoke may pose some danger to your health. It’s important to know what carbon monoxide is and how you can protect yourself from it so that you can live safely with this invisible threat every day.

How Does Carbon Monoxide Affect Your Body?

Carbon monoxide exposure is extremely dangerous for human health. When carbon monoxide enters the bloodstream, a chemical reaction takes place that replaces the oxygen in your red blood cells with carbon monoxide (CO-Hb). The CO-Hb reacts with myoglobin - an iron-containing protein found in muscle tissue. Myoglobin gives muscle tissues their reddish colour. The carbon monoxide portion of CO-Hb bonds to the haemoglobin's normal position on the surface of sickled red blood cells, making them less deformable because they are more "slick". This may lead to microcirculatory disturbances with potentially fatal consequences. These include hypoxemia (insufficient oxygen in the body), tissue hypoxia, carbon monoxide retention and ventricular fibrillation.

Carbon Monoxide Also Affects Your Nervous System

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning causes interference with brain function that may cause disorientation, confusion, impaired judgment and other signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning may impair brain function because carbon monoxide attaches to haemoglobin in the blood, replacing oxygen molecules. The carbon monoxide then is carried through your bloodstream into your brain, where it replaces much-needed oxygen molecules that make your neurons work properly. Depending on how high the carbon monoxide levels are in your bloodstream, you may notice slurred speech or find yourself dizzy and confused. At higher carbon monoxide levels this lack of oxygen can cause a person to pass out or even die. How carbon monoxide affects our cardiovascular system: carbon monoxide effect on human body, carbon monoxide symptoms from inhalation

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning harms the heart and cardiovascular system.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause carbon monoxide to build up in your blood, which may lead to irregular heartbeat or even death! carbon monoxide is dangerous, at high levels carbon monoxide causes decreased oxygen travel from the lungs, through your bloodstream and into your cells. This can disrupt every organ in your body including the heart and brain.

In More Simple Words

This is a very complicated process to explain but carbon monoxide poisoning can change the way your blood cells move through an area of your body. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning makes people sick by changing how their cells make energy. The carbon monoxide attaches to red blood cells carrying oxygen throughout your body, making them "sick" as well... not able to deliver the much-needed oxygen properly.

The symptoms of CO poisoning

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning is a serious illness that should be taken seriously by everyone who may be exposed to this deadly gas - even at low levels. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include: Headaches Dizziness Nausea Vomiting Shortness of breath Chest pains Confusion Gastrointestinal problems Coma Death Carbon Monoxide Poisoning can kill you! Believe it or not, carbon monoxides effects on your body increase with each exposure.

If you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms, seek medical help immediately:

- Headache

- Dizziness

- Nausea, vomiting

- Fatigue

- Dizziness

- Nausea

- Shortness of Breath

- Vertigo

- Blurred Vision

- Confusion and disorientation.

- Chest Pain

What to do in case you think you have been poisoned at home?

Time is of the essence when carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected. If carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected, leave the area immediately and call your local Emergency Medical Services(EMS) agency or fire department. Do not return to the building until you are advised it is safe to do so by authorities.

How Is CO Poisoning Treated?

The treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning is primarily focused on providing 100% oxygen to improve symptoms and prevent carbon monoxide from binding with haemoglobin. This can be accomplished by transporting the person to an area where adequate fresh air is available, followed by hospitalisation, artificial respiration, or hyperbaric oxygen therapy if carbon monoxide poisoning is severe.

There is no antidote for carbon monoxide; treatment consists of supportive care such as supplying oxygen and removing carbon monoxide sources. If you have been exposed to CO poisoning, seek medical advice now!

What can produce excess CO in your home?

One of the most common causes of carbon monoxide poisoning comes from gas stoves and heaters that are old, or poorly installed. These types of appliances typically produce a great deal more CO than new ones because the gas isn't burning at its fullest potential. Older cars in your garage could also be significant sources of carbon monoxide, depending on how they're running and what you have in your garage.

Here are the most common appliances that can produce an excess of CO in your home:

  • Gas Stoves
  • Old Heaters
  • Gas Boilers
  • Fireplaces

For this reason, each of these areas is advised to be covered by Carbon Monoxide detectors. If you suspect CO in your home, have some of the above appliances checked. If it's confirmed, take the necessary steps to eliminate the source of the CO immediately.

HOW TO AVOID EXPOSURE TO CARBON MONOX

What can be done to prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

CO detectors are inexpensive and compulsory

Install Working Carbon Monoxide Detectors at Home

Carbon Monoxide Detectors are the easiest and the least expensive way to get alerted at the first sight of gas leaks at home. Lack of detectors is one of the most common causes of carbon monoxide poisoning. Therefore, install carbon monoxide detectors in your home to ensure you and your family members will be alerted at the first sign of carbon monoxide leaks.

Where to buy it?

Carbon Monoxide Detectors can be purchased online or at your local hardware shop. The price range goes between £10 and £35 and they are fairly easy to install. If you shop online, you will likely find detailed instructions and a video guide on how to activate and fit your detector. If you go to the local hardware store, you may also ask for an installation service if you lack the technical expertise on how to install a CO detector yourself.

How to choose a carbon monoxide detector?

There are different carbon monoxide detectors on the market and choosing one should not be a difficult task. First of all, your carbon monoxide detector should have a digital display that allows you to know the exact level of CO in the air as well as how long it's been in there.

Second, you should check for a warranty as many manufacturers provide a long-term guarantee. This can be a great relief if an appliance breaks down for some reason in a few years, as you will not have to pay for it again.

Finally, the installation options and batteries. The most common detectors are battery powered, which makes them very easy to activate and fit anywhere in your home. However, batteries lifetime is between 6 months and 1 year only, needing you to regularly replace the batteries to make sure your detector is in operation. Failing to replace the batteries on time may put your life and the lives of your family members at risk.

Luckily, some battery-powered detectors come with a long-life lithium battery, lasting for over 5 years. This is extremely convenient, particularly if you live in a remote area or have difficulty accessing your home regularly, or if you are just tired of replacing batteries every few months.

CO Detectors in Scotland

Different countries have different rules, therefore it is advised to know your local laws before purchasing a carbon monoxide detector. For instance, in Scotland, it is compulsory to install at least one CO alarm in each area that has a carbon-fuelled appliance. In addition, the carbon monoxide detectors should be battery-powered and with a tamper-proof battery.

This makes the CO detectors last longer and makes it hard for kids and elderly people to access the batteries and accidentally tamper the device. If you are resident in Scotland, you should read this article regarding the new Scottish Regulations for carbon monoxide alarms. Failure to meet the requested standards might cause your insurance to be invalidated.

The best time to install one is when you're installing other detectors like smoke or fire alarms

The best time to install a carbon monoxide detector or any type of detector, for that matter is when you are installing other alarms. This is because it's easier to replace all the detectors at once and make sure they are all in operation and working condition. It's also easier to install them once and not to have to think about it anymore.

When is the last time you checked your detectors and made sure they are in working condition and meet the requirements of your country? Some people do not check their detectors for years, and they do not know whether the device is still in operation.

Apart from safety concerns, your old detectors might become an issue if they haven't been checked in a while. Many countries, including Scotland, are updating their fire alarm regulations. This means that old detectors that do not comply with the new requirements might make your insurance invalid. You will have to spend money on new detectors, and in case of a fire, it is possible you won't be covered by your insurance. If you are not sure about your country regulations, you might want to consult our full guide here.

Test Your CO Detector Before Installation

One of the most important steps to take when you buy a new CO detector is testing. The last thing you want is for your detector to break down in a few months or and then it won't work at all. Testing also will give you peace of mind that the detectors are working properly. You might want to test each alarm with a device before attaching it to the ceiling or wall, just to make sure they're working.

How to test your detector?

Depending on the type of alarm, different steps need to be taken to ensure you are giving yourself and your family the best protection possible. Some gas detection devices may come with a battery included, this means that you can immediately check whether everything is working properly. If not, you can test it before you install it.

When you get your new carbon monoxide detector, read the instructions first and find out what type of device you purchased. Some detectors which need to be wired in have a test button, others may require you to manually switch on the alarm. No matter how easy or difficult it is, with just a few minutes of your time, you'll ensure that the device is working and ready for use.

How Many Detectors Does Your Home Require?

You might think that installing one CO detector in your home, even if you don't have a multi-level property, is enough to protect you and your family from carbon monoxide poisoning. This is not the case, as multiple carbon monoxide detectors could be required, depending on your home.

Where you should install your CO detector depends on where there are carbon-fuelled appliances or cars around. These are the appliances and areas you should cover:

  • gas hobs
  • fireplace
  • boiler
  • indoors garage

Failing to install your detectors in the above areas will put your life at risk of carbon monoxide exposure.

Install Your Carbon Monoxide Detectors Before It's Too Late

Carbon monoxide detectors are a necessity in any home. The last thing you want is for your detector to break down and not work at all. You should install it before the need arises, or have one handy just in case of emergencies. Our guide has outlined how many CO detectors your home might require depending on where there are carbon-fuelled appliances around, and the risks your family is exposed to in case of CO poisoning.

So, what are you waiting for? Take action today and protect your home from carbon monoxide poisoning. You can explore our bundle kits that contain all the necessary fire and smoke alarms to protect your home.

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Facts about home fires

38% of UK homes do not have a working smoke alarm 

One in three households in the UK do not have a working fire alarm and do not meet the government standards.

10,000 homes are destroyed every year due to fire

Last year saw the largest increase in UK deaths in a single year.

People in Scotland are more at risk of home fire than other UK countries

Last year saw the largest increase in UK deaths in a single year since 1940, according to provisional ONS figures

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