Why is Carbon Monoxide Dangerous?

Carbon monoxide is a tasteless, odorless, and colorless gas. Exposure to high levels of carbon monoxide can kill you within an hour. Healthy people can withstand levels of 50 PPM for up to 8 hours before it’s considered an issue, whereas higher levels can lead to confusion, vomiting, loss of muscle coordination, loss of consciousness, and death. As heating professionals who deal with a lot of gas furnaces, Santa Fe Air knows there is something particularly sinister about carbon monoxide exposure. 


Related: How to Read Your Carbon Monoxide Detector →

The symptoms of CO poisoning

Some of the most common symptoms of CO poisoning include:

  • Dull headache
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion and hallucinations
  • Loss of consciousness

The symptoms of CO poisoning can be subtle depending upon how a person is exposed. Most people get headaches sometimes without thinking too much about it, after all, we all deal with stress in our daily lives. The same occurs with nausea; it can take a lot of persistent nausea to make someone suspect anything more than food not settling well.

Slow vs. fast developing concentrations of CO

It’s common to mistake  mild-to-moderate CO poisoning as the flu when CO concentration is slowly developing. This leads to prolonged exposure and, if it goes unnoticed, tragic death.  When CO concentration develops rapidly, people become confused and lose control of their muscles without experiencing milder symptoms. In these situations a person is likely to die unless they are rescued quickly. 

The effects of long term CO exposure

In 2015, a post to a legal advice forum on the popular website Reddit started a wave of renewed attention on \carbon monoxide poisoning. User RBradbury1920 posted asking for legal advice because they kept finding Post-It notes in their apartment. They became convinced their landlord was entering their home unannounced and leaving cryptic notes. When someone suggested they get a CO detector, it revealed levels of 100 PPM. 

The user never revealed specific details about how long they had been exposed to those levels of CO, though from their post, their symptoms had been persisting for close to a month. They had developed brain swelling, and in nearly a year they had not fully recovered. 

As heating professionals, we believe this story is the best demonstration of why carbon monoxide detectors are necessary. The symptoms of CO poisoning from these slow developing concentrations are subtle enough to be mistaken for something else, but they’re terrifying symptoms, and it will lead to death if it’s not caught. 

Keep your family safe from CO poisoning with Santa Fe Air

Along with having carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home, you’ll want to make sure an HVAC professional checks that your heating system is working properly. The best thing you can do for your family is to stop carbon monoxide from ever circulating in your house in the first place. To make this easier, we offer a convenient preventative maintenance plan for our customers.

Santa Fe Air offers a variety of services to people in the Kansas City area from heating system check-ups to furnace repair to ensure that you won’t have to worry about your family’s safety or comfort. We are also THE carbon monoxide detector experts in Kansas City!


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