Believing false carbon monoxide myths can be extremely dangerous.
Carbon monoxide is very often misunderstood. There are lots of carbon monoxide myths that are being passed on from one person to the next. What’s dangerous about this is that carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the top causes of accidental poisoning and wrong information can lead to hospitalization or even death.
Here are some carbon monoxide myths debunked:
- MYTH: You could smell carbon monoxide when you turn on your boiler.
FACT: This gas is odorless, colorless and tasteless, hence the nickname ‘silent killer’. What you are likely smelling are combustion byproducts which should also be addressed right away.
- MYTH: Carbon monoxide problems are caused by old heating systems.
FACT: Yes, old HVAC units including air conditioners and boilers that are not functioning properly can emit carbon monoxide. However, this is not the only cause. Carbon monoxide also build up when your heating system is not vented properly or the air in your home does not circulate well, like when you have clogged up chimneys. Pain remover chemicals can also cause CO poisoning.
- MYTH: Heating systems must be checked every two to three years to make sure they are properly functioning.
FACT: A boiler service must be done annually.
- MYTH: Carbon monoxide is not too dangerous.
FACT: Carbon monoxide kills more than 500 people in the US annually from unintentional poisoning and is the most common type of fatal indoor air poisoning anywhere.
- MYTH: People who have inhaled the gas in poisonous levels do not show physical symptoms.
FACT: Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms include nausea, headache, burning eyes, confusion, drowsiness, and loss of consciousness which are all similar to symptoms of the flu. The difference is that with CO poisoning, there is no fever.
- MYTH: Call your emergency line if your carbon monoxide detector keeps going off.
FACTS: You should take it seriously when your carbon monoxide detector goes off for the first time or if anyone in your home is showing the symptoms of CO poisoning. Immediately get everyone out of the house and call your local emergency line, gas company or fire department. Do not go back insider your home until after the repairs are done and your house have been cleared of carbon monoxide.
- MYTH: Patients who suffered carbon monoxide poisoning full recover.
FACT: While many patients recover completely, in severe cases, the poisoning can cause permanent brain damage or other mental malfunctions such as short-term memory, dementia, amnesia, irratibility, an unusual walking gait, speech impairments and depression.
- MYTH: The best way to protect your family from carbon monoxide poisoning is by installing an alarm.
FACT: While alarms are a great way to tell if there is CO present in the air, the best prevention of CO poisoning is getting regular boiler service checks done.
- MYTH: You can test if the carbon monoxide detector is working properly by pressing the button. If it beeps, that means the alarm is good.
FACT: The button only tests the battery, not the carbon monoxide detector. Most detectors have a life span of approximately 6 years. It is best to have a professional regularly check your detectors.