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Carbon monoxide (CO) is terrifying because it is completely undetectable to humans. We can’t see, smell, touch, or taste it, yet it is deadly. This is the reason CO detectors are so important. A carbon monoxide detector, coupled with an alarm monitoring service can save the lives of you and your loved ones. But what exactly is carbon monoxide poisoning?

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a gas. It is:

  • colourless
  • odourless
  • tasteless

As we said above, completely undetectable. Carbon monoxide is formed from incomplete combustion. When complete combustion occurs in a stove burner, for example, carbon dioxide is produced which causes the bright blue flame. However, when there is not enough oxygen to produce carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide is formed.

Carbon monoxide can be produced by any carbon containing fuels, such as:

  • Coal
  • Wood
  • Natural Gas
  • Propane
  • Oil
  • Kerosene

In the home, carbon monoxide can be produced by any of the following:

  • Cigars/cigarettes
  • Furnaces
  • Heaters
  • Boilers
  • Stoves
  • Dryers
  • Barbeques
  • Fireplaces
  • Motor Vehicles

Basically, anything that burns fuel can become a source of carbon monoxide, and the production of CO in an indoor, unventilated space can be deadly.

CO Poisoning

If a CO leak occurs and the inhabitants of the house don’t know about it, then CO poisoning occurs. CO combines with hemoglobin and reduces the capacity of blood to carry oxygen to organs and tissue.

The degree of harm depends on the amount of CO present. Large quantities can kill within minutes, especially if residents are asleep. However, many people suffer from low, or medium levels of CO poisoning, which can be hard to diagnose.

Symptoms of CO poisoning include:

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Vertigo
  • Confusion
  • Chest pain
  • Hallucinations
  • Cardiac abnormalities
  • Seizures
  • Unsteady gait
  • Unconsciousness

Chronic CO poisoning can also occur when people are exposed to low levels of CO over a length of time. Symptoms of chronic CO poisoning include depression, confusion, headaches, dizziness, and memory loss.


The first step of treatment is to eliminate CO from the home, or remove the affected people/person from the area. Commonly, CO exposure is treated with oxygen, hyperbaric oxygen in some cases. Oxygen removes the CO from the hemoglobin, and re-oxygenates the body.

As you can see, carbon monoxide poisoning is extremely dangerous and must be taken seriously. The best defence against CO poisoning is the installation of a CO detector, combined with an alarm monitoring system. Make sure CO detectors are regularly inspected. In addition to installing detectors, make sure all gas burning appliances are inspected by a professional once a year.

With carbon monoxide, you can never be too careful. Contact us today, and protect yourself and your loved ones from this deadly gas.