After having a brief, but scary carbon monoxide ordeal tonight, I thought it would be appropriate to write about it. A majority of students here at WVU live in off-campus housing, where most of the houses and apartments are very old. By law, landlords are not required to have carbon monoxide detectors in housing buildings. After tonight, I would strongly advise you to buy one for yourselves. My experience just turned out to be fine, but the anxiety of possibly having been inhaling the deadly gas for hours, was immense.
My apartment building is older than most and I share it with only a few other tenants across from me. The beeping was coming from the basement, where the laundry machines are located. The walls are paper thin, so even 2 levels up, we could hear the incessant beeping. I just figured it was our neighbors alarm, so I ignored it. One of the other tenants apparently went downstairs to check it out, and came back up to warn me that our fire/carbon monoxide alarm was going off. To say the least, I was a little freaked out. We called the fire department and within about 5 to 10 minutes they arrived. Over the phone they told us to close all windows and doors, so they could get an accurate reading. So they we all were, huddled under umbrellas and raincoats with our pets, waiting for them to arrive. The firefighters went into the basement to check it all out. I didn’t follow them because I had my roommates dog with me, so I waited under the deck. After another 15 minutes, we got the A-ok to go back inside. Apparently, the alarm was just about to expire, and that was causing the noise. It was still a scary half hour, even if it turned out to be nothing.
I have gathered some information about carbon monoxide poisoning and its symptoms for you to go over:
Because carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless it is not always evident when it has become a problem is the home. Often people who have a mild to moderate problem will find they feel sick while they spend time at home. They might feel a little better outside in the fresh air but will have re-occurring symptoms shortly after returning home.
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Low levels of carbon monoxide poisoning can be confused with flu symptoms, food poisoning or other illnesses and can have a long term health risk if left unattended. Some of the symptoms are the following.
- Shortness of breath
- Mild nausea
- Mild headaches
Moderate levels of CO exposure can cause death if the following symptoms persist for a long measure of time.
High levels of CO can be fatal causing death within minutes.
There are immediate measures you can take to help those suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Get the victim into fresh air immediately.
- If you can not get the people out of the house, then open all windows and doors. Any combustion appliances should be turned off.
- Take those who were subjected to carbon monoxide to a hospital emergency room as quickly as possible. A simple blood test will be able to determine if carbon monoxide poisoning has occurred.
All information grabbed from this carbon monoxide website. The EPA website also has some good information beyond what most websites give you. They give links to studies and articles about CO2 poisoning and links to buy CO2 detectors.
Take it from me – you don’t want to go through what I had to go through tonight. Go buy one ASAP, and it could save your life.