Opening a window will slow carbon monoxide poisoning, but it likely won't stop it. There simply isn't enough airflow through most windows to get rid of the poisonous gas, and it could take between four and eight hours for the CO to dissipate entirely.
Opening windows does not provide enough ventilation to be protective. CO is an invisible, odorless gas that can be fatal. If you breathe in a lot of CO gas, it can make you pass out or kill you. People who are sleeping or drunk can die from CO poisoning before they have symptoms.
CO leaves your body when you exhale, but it can take up to a day . Carboxyhemoglobin forms in red blood cells when carbon monoxide gets into your bloodstream. Its half-life is approximately four hours in the fresh air.
This means that if you are breathing fresh, carbon monoxide-free air, it will take five hours to get half the carbon monoxide out of your system. Then it will take another five hours to cut that level in half, and so on.
For starters, any source of the CO must be turned off. Next, all windows and doors must be opened to facilitate airflow and dissipate the CO. Carbon monoxide is lighter than air, and it will gradually flow from the enclosed space to the open atmosphere.
If people in the home are exhibiting symptoms of CO poisoning, immediately leave the building and call your local fire department. In cases where residents are feeling fine, call your local gas utility company or a qualified technician to help identify the cause of the problem.
If the carbon monoxide concentration in the air is much higher, signs of poisoning may occur within 1-2 hours. A very high carbon monoxide concentration can even kill an exposed individual within 5 minutes.
A carbon monoxide detector is a must for any home and just as important as a smoke detector. CO detectors should be placed near all bedrooms; they're the only way you will know if carbon monoxide is affecting the air quality in your home, and can help prevent serious illness and even death.
Outlook (Prognosis) Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause death. For those who survive, recovery is slow. How well a person does depends on the amount and length of exposure to the carbon monoxide.
Most people with a mild exposure to carbon monoxide experience headaches, fatigue, and nausea. Unfortunately, the symptoms are easily overlooked because they are often flu-like. Medium exposure can cause you to experience a throbbing headache, drowsiness, disorientation, and an accelerated heart rate.
The most common source of CO poisoning is unvented space heaters in the home. An unvented space heater uses combustible fuel and indoor air for the heating process. It vents the gases it makes into the room, instead of outdoors.
One skill sometimes credited to dogs is the ability to sense or detect carbon monoxide. Unfortunately, even a dog's incredible nose can't detect carbon monoxide, though pets can still play an important role in the early detection of poisonous gas.
The CO alarm sounds if your sensor detects a buildup of carbon monoxide in your home—usually before you start sensing symptoms. With a low CO level (50 ppm), it may take up to eight hours for the alarm to go off. Higher carbon monoxide levels (over 150 ppm) can trigger an alarm within minutes.
A high concentration can displace oxygen in the air. If less oxygen is available to breathe, symptoms such as rapid breathing, rapid heart rate, clumsiness, emotional upsets and fatigue can result. As less oxygen becomes available, nausea and vomiting, collapse, convulsions, coma and death can occur.
Early symptoms of CO poisoning include irritated eyes, headache, nausea, weakness, and dizziness. They are often confused with seasickness or intoxication, so those affected may not receive the medical attention they need.
A tension-type headache is the most common symptom of mild carbon monoxide poisoning. Other symptoms include: dizziness. nausea (feeling sick) and vomiting.
OSHA Carbon Monoxide Exposure Limits
The OSHA personal exposure limit (PEL) for CO is 50 parts per million (ppm). OSHA standards prohibit worker exposure to more than 50 parts of CO gas per million parts of air averaged during an 8-hour time period.
Average levels in homes without gas stoves vary from 0.5 to 5 parts per million (ppm). Levels near properly adjusted gas stoves are often 5 to 15 ppm and those near poorly adjusted stoves may be 30 ppm or higher.
Carbon monoxide is a gas that has no odor, color or taste. You wouldn't be able to see or smell it, but it can be very dangerous to your health and even fatal.
No, carbon monoxide has no smell. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that's a byproduct of combustion. As a homeowner, this means it can leak from your gas furnace, stove, dryer, and water heater as well as wood stove/fireplace.
Signs of a carbon monoxide leak in your house or home
Sooty or brownish-yellow stains around the leaking appliance. Stale, stuffy, or smelly air, like the smell of something burning or overheating. Soot, smoke, fumes, or back-draft in the house from a chimney, fireplace, or other fuel burning equipment.
Symptoms of mild carbon monoxide poisoning are headaches, dizziness, sore throat, dry cough and nausea, all of which could easily be confused with viral cold and flu infections, food poisoning or general tiredness.
If you suspect you have been exposed to carbon monoxide, or you have carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms, call 911 or get to an emergency room as soon as possible. You'll be given an oxygen mask to breathe through to provide pure oxygen. This will offset the carbon monoxide buildup.