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Carbon Monoxide, the silent killer; facts about the CO and the solution: the CO alarms

Carbon Monoxide, the silent killer; facts about the CO and the solution: the CO alarms

  2010-02-09         admin         Safety » Fire Safety
What is Carbon Monoxide? Where does CO come from? What are the symptoms of the CO poisoning? - these and many other questions are answered in the Carbon Monoxide FAQ. The fact is that many are killed each year and many more suffer ill health from Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning. CO (Carbon Monoxide) is an invisible, odourless, tasteless and extremely toxic gas.

It is produced by appliances burning fuels, such as natural / bottled gas, paraffin, wood, petrol, diesel, charcoal etc. Heavy doses of CO will cause a person to collapse and die within minutes. Lesser doses can cause headaches, drowsiness, fatigue, nausea, vomiting or flu symptoms. Carbon Monoxide is absorbed by red blood cells in the lungs in preference to oxygen - this results in rapid damage to the heart and brain from oxygen starvation. Read more about Carbon Monoxide poisoning and its reliable detection, with a presentation of the CO alarms from Aico.

Sources of Carbon Monoxide

If a home has any of these potential sources of CO it should have a Carbon Monoxide Alarm installed

Sources of Carbon Monoxide

Toxic amounts of CO can be produced if there is:
  • Inadequate ventilation, so that there is not enough oxygen for the fuel to burn properly.
  • An appliance not working correctly due to poor installation, lack of servicing or chimney / flue blockage.
  • Cracked / Rusted flues or chimneys
Where to place CO Alarms or Detectors: Ideally you should have an alarm/detector in or near every room that contains a fuel burning appliance.

However, if you have more than one appliance, but only one alarm/detector, you should take the following into consideration when deciding where best to put the alarm/detector.

  • If there is an appliance in the bedroom, you should put a alarm/detector in that room.
  • If there is an appliance in a room that you use frequently, e.g. sitting room or kitchen, you should put it in that room.
  • If you live in a bedsit, put the alarm/detector as far away from the cooking appliances as possible, but near to the place where you sleep.
  • If the appliance is in a room not normally used (e.g. a boiler room), put the Carbon Monoxide alarm / detector just outside the room so that you will be able to hear the alarm more easily.

How the CO Alarm gives Warnings

When the Carbon Monoxide alarm detects potentially dangerous levels of CO, it flashes the red alarm light immediately and then sounds a loud alarm if the CO persists. At higher levels of CO the alarm turns on sooner. The rate of flashing of the red light indicates the level of CO. The alarm checks for CO every 50 seconds.

Effects of Cumulative CO Exposure

  • <CO ppm  - Inhalation Time (approx) and Symptoms Developed>
  • 35 CO PPM - The maximum allowable concentration for continuous exposure in any 8-hour period according to OSHA**.
  • 150 CO PPM - Slight headache after 1.5 hours.
  • 200 CO PPM - Slight headache, fatigue, dizziness, nausea after 2-3 hours.
  • 400 CO PPM - Frontal headaches within 1-2 hours, life threatening after 3 hours.
  • 800 CO PPM - Dizziness, nausea and convulsions within 45 minutes. Unconsciousness within 2 hours. Death within 2-3 hours.
  • 1.600 CO PPM - Headache, dizziness and nausea within 20 minutes. Death within 1 hour.
  • 3.200 CO PPM - Headache, dizziness and nausea within 5-10 minutes. Death within 25-30 minutes.
  • 6.400 CO PPM - Headache, dizziness and nausea within 1-2 minutes. Death within 10-15 minutes.
  • 12.800 CO PPM - Death within 1-3 minutes.
In conclusion, it is up to us to protect our families / our home environment from this Silent Killer - the Carbon Monoxide. Especially with the development of the new technologies + new home appliances, the risk of CO poisoning is continually growing. Below is one of the Carbon Monoxide Alarms from Aico (Ei Electronics) that can help you fight this killer: the CO.