Indoor use of machinery poses serious carbon monoxide threat
(NC)— With the certainty of colder weather ahead, families are cleaning up and packing away items for storage. It is also the right time of year to do some emergency planning, say specialists in this field. Planning ahead will give you some comfort for the inevitable power outages and furnace breakdowns that always seem to happen on the coldest days of the year.
Danger lurks however. Even though you might not think twice before power washing the garage, or keeping a gas generator or pump handy in the basement, be aware of the potential carbon monoxide hazard from gas-powered machines.
Emissions from a gas-powered washer, for example, create carbon monoxide levels as high as 1,000 parts per million (ppm), enough to incite a sudden onset of dizziness, weakness, confusion, and difficulty walking. At levels higher than 70 ppm, prolonged exposure can cause headaches, fatigue and nausea. Severe exposure at levels higher than 200 ppm can be lethal.
Without adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide poisoning can happen in a very short time. Being a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas makes CO even more sinister.
It is crucial to read operating manuals when using machinery, and to ensure proper maintenance. As a general rule, most gas-powered machinery should never be used indoors, started, or run in a closed area.
“Despite warnings to the contrary, many people continue to operate portable generators and machinery indoors, or in areas lacking proper ventilation, resulting in hundreds of deaths since 2005,” says Carol Heller, a home safety expert with industry leader, Kidde Canada.
Heller tells us that Kidde is the country's leading manufacturer of carbon monoxide alarms used to detect this deadly gas. “Our CO alarms are the only ones in Canada to be certified to last a full 10 years, instead of the industry standard five or seven years,” she explains. “And our new line of “worry-free” carbon monoxide alarms also feature a sealed lithium battery that never needs changing until it is time to replace the alarm.”
She also points out that carbon monoxide alarms, like smoke alarms, need to be replaced whether they are plug-in, battery powered or hardwired. “The only way to be protected from this 'silent killer' is with a working CSA-approved CO alarm,” she said.
More information about carbon monoxide and its dangers can be found online at safeathome.ca and endthesilence.ca.
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