It may have been a long time coming this year, but a bone-cold winter is finally upon us.  Frosted car windows, snow-laden rooftops, iced pavement, and even frostbite are all things to worry about once again.  Amidst these concerns, however, we mustn’t forget a more subtle danger of the season.  Carbon monoxide, or CO, is an utterly invisible and scentless gas which can be potently toxic when one is exposed to concentrated amounts.

Most of our home appliances which use gas, oil, kerosene, charcoal, or wood as fuel, release some level of CO into the air.  When these devices are kept well-ventilated and maintained, they produce a relatively small amount of carbon monoxide.  However, it can be difficult to detect when mechanisms within these appliances sustain substantial wear and tear, and among the last things one wants to worry about when returning home from the grueling cold is whether or not one’s source of warmth is emitting a poisonous gas.   If improperly ventilated or faulty, the following appliances could do just that:

  • Charcoal burners
  • Cooking/kitchen ranges
  • Engines (ex. Car idling in a garage to warm up)
  • Fireplaces
  • Furnaces
  • Portable generators
  • Room heaters
  • Water heaters
  • Wood burning stoves

Higher concentration levels of carbon monoxide correspond with intensifying symptoms.  As you’ll see in the next list below, these symptoms range in severity from simple flu-like inconveniences to lethality.

0.01% or 100 ppm(parts per million) – Maximum concentration in which a person of normal health will not experience symptoms
0.02% or 200 ppm – Slight headache, tiredness, dizziness after 2 or 3 hours
0.03% or 300 ppm – Maximum exposure allowed by OSHA for any person at a given time
0.04% or 400 ppm – Life threatening after 3 hours exposure
0.08% or 800 ppm – Dizziness, nausea, convulsions within 45 minutes; death within three hours
0.016% or 1,600 ppm – Dizziness, nausea, convulsions within 20 minutes; death within 60 minutes
0.032% or 3,200 ppm – Dizziness, nausea, convulsions within 5 to 10 minutes; death within 30 minutes
0.064% or 6,400 ppm – Dizziness, nausea, convulsions within 1 to 2 minutes; death within 10 to 15 minutes.

***Table/information courtesy of TCLifeSafety Inc

Luckily, there are precautions for keeping your home safe from CO pollution besides carefully maintaining your appliances.  Cunningham Security can install CO detection devices and monitor your home, notifying you of a poisonous buildup before it becomes a threat, whether or not you’re at the premises.  Every system we design is custom tailored to each customers’ needs and concerns, whether this includes monitoring for burglary, fire, low temperature, generator failure, boiler failure, and/or CO detection.  Call our office today at 207-846-3350, and a system designer would be happy to discuss how we can bring you peace of mind.