In this video, we’ll review proper Carbon Monoxide safety practices and provide you with the necessary skills needed to recognize and detect potential hazards, and how to avoid exposure.
What is Carbon Monoxide?
So, what is Carbon Monoxide? Carbon Monoxide, also known as CO, is a poisonous gas that may be released into the air when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely. This occurs when there isn’t enough oxygen present at the time for the fuel to burn completely and because of this carbon monoxide is produced.
Carbon Monoxide is often referred to as the “Invisible Killer” because it has no odor, color, or taste for our senses to detect. Additionally, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to the flu, which can often cause victims to ignore the early signs of CO poisoning.
Where is Carbon Monoxide Found?
Carbon Monoxide exposure can come from things such as furnaces, water heaters, stoves, grills, gas powered machinery, and propane heaters. Likewise, generators, forklifts, tractors, and exhaust from a vehicle can also put you at risk for CO exposure.
Exposure and Symptoms
Because CO is undetectable to the human senses, one should assume that whenever you’re near an open fire or gas-powered machine you’re at risk for exposure and extra precautions should be taken to ensure proper ventilation is being achieved.
The concentration of CO is measured in parts per million and is a determining factor in the symptoms for an average healthy adult. Low to moderate level poisoning can occur when PPM levels are between 50 and 800, while High Level poisoning symptoms occur from 800-12,800 ppm.
Knowing this, it’s important to always stay alert for the signs and symptoms of CO exposure. For most people, the initial symptoms of low to moderate Carbon Monoxide poisoning include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, and dizziness. Meanwhile, high level CO poisoning often result in more severe symptoms such as mental confusion, vomiting, loss of muscular coordination, loss of consciousness, and even ultimately, death. Some of these symptoms can be temporary while others can be permanent.
The good news is most opportunities for Carbon Monoxide exposure are preventable. A few safety tips you can follow to prevent your exposure here at work are to remember to never run your vehicle engine when parked in an enclosed space or garage for an extended period of time. In these situations where the vehicle needs to run, always open a garage door to allow in fresh air and utilize a high power exhaust fan to quickly remove the fumes. It’s also important that you never run a generator, pressure washer or any other gasoline-powered engine or propane burning device less than 20 feet from an open window, door, or vent.