Overexposure to carbon monoxide, say from a fire, can result in carbon monoxide poisoning – a condition that needs to be treated immediately to prevent death. The gas weakens one's ability to absorb the necessary oxygen hence, serious damage to the tissues can result and eventually death. The signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may seem faint, but it is a hazardous medical emergency that if left unattended immediately, one might succumb to the condition. Therefore, appliances and other devices that produce burning fumes should not be contained in a properly ventilated space.
The signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include but are not limited to dizziness, a feeling of weakness, confusion, loss of consciousness, nausea, dull headache, shortness of breath, vomiting and a blurred vision. Individuals sleeping or intoxicated may die due to carbon monoxide poisoning as it is a dangerous condition. Therefore, upon realization that one has been exposed to carbon monoxide, he or she should be immediately get into fresh air and emergency medical care should be sought. This can be done by dialing 911.
Carbon monoxide poisoning comes as result of inhalation of combustion fumes like those produced by burning fuel where the body replaces the oxygen present in an individual's hemoglobin of the red blood cells with carbon monoxide. Vital oxygen is thus prevented from reaching the tissues and organs. Appliances that produce carbon monoxide include furnaces, car and truck engines, portable generators, wood burning stoves, charcoal grills and fuel burning space heaters among many others. These appliances, when used in a closed door or partly closed positions may make carbon monoxide build to dangerous levels leading to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Exposure to this odorless and colorless gas carbon monoxide may be mainly hazardous for the elderly people over the age of 60 years leading to brain damage. In addition, unborn babies are at high risk of this kind of poisoning where fetal blood cells takes up the gas more easily than adult blood cells increasing their vulnerability; and in young children because they breathe more frequently than adults.
Complications of carbon monoxide poisoning include death of the victims exposed to carbon monoxide gas for a long time, permanent brain damage or even damage to the heart which has resultant effects like the life threatening cardiac problems in the victim's life. Most victims of carbon monoxide poisoning usually suffer long-term complications in case they survive such poisoning.
A person who has experienced carbon monoxide poisoning should be rushed to the fresh air immediately since he or he shall exhibit signs and symptoms such as chest pains, confusion, dizziness, nausea and headache. If not treated urgently, such victims might die. Immediately after taking the patient to a place with fresh air, call emergency help for further assistance.
There is always a need to keep gas appliances and fireplace vented by cleaning the chimney and flue regularly. In addition, adhering to the recommended use of gas or stove is a key factor in preventing carbon monoxide poisoning. For instance, avoid running a generator in an enclosed space or burning fuel when windows are closed where there is no room for fresh air.
Other simple precautions in prevention include investing in carbon monoxide detectors and installing them next to a person's sleeping areas in a house in order to keep safe, ensuring that you open the door to the garage before starting a car. Whenever there is an occurrence of a carbon monoxide poisoning in a home, critically finding its source to avoid the recurrence.