How to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

As a colorless, odorless gas, carbon monoxide (CO) can be challenging to detect. Because of this, CO exposure is the leading cause of death due to poisoning in the United States. However, carbon monoxide deaths are entirely preventable.

Carbon monoxide can be found in fireplaces, furnaces, generators, stoves, and the fumes of vehicles. What's more, because it can be difficult to detect carbon monoxide using our senses of smell and sight, it can be leaking without you even knowing.

For this reason, it is important to know the symptoms of CO poisoning. When people breathe in carbon monoxide, it interferes with the blood's ability to transport oxygen. Mild carbon monoxide levels can cause a loss of concentration, dizziness, headaches, weakness, impaired vision, and fatigue. As CO levels increase, so does the severity of symptoms: rapid breathing, nausea, and chest pain. With higher levels and more prolonged exposure, people may become disoriented, lose consciousness, and die.

Carbon monoxide is a common industrial hazard due to the incomplete burning of material that contains carbon such as natural gas, gasoline, kerosene, oil, propane, coal, or wood. While blast furnaces, forges, and cook ovens produce CO, the most common source of exposure in the workplace is the internal combustion engine.

Disoriented man in his 30s feeling dizzy and trying to balance against a wall

How Can You Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

One of the simplest preventative measures you can take is to have your heating system, water heater, and gas, oil, or coal-burning appliances serviced every year by a qualified, licensed provider. Maintaining appliances and equipment that can produce CO will promote safer operation and reduce CO formation. McIntosh Corporation does this as part of our Preventative Maintenance service.

There are other preventative steps to eliminate carbon monoxide exposure in the workplace:

  • Install an effective ventilation system or extraction fans to remove carbon monoxide from work areas.
  • Be mindful of using supplementary heaters as they can cause CO exposure.
  • Tools powered by gasoline – high-pressure washers, welders, and pumps – also produce CO and should be used with care.
  • Make the switch from gasoline-powered equipment to those powered by electricity, batteries, or compressed air.
  • Avoid the use of gas-powered tools in confined spaces.
  • Install CO monitors with audible alarms.
  • Prohibit the use of gasoline-powered equipment or tools in poorly ventilated areas.
  • Test the air regularly in areas where CO may be present, especially confined spaces.
  • When entering a confined space, check for oxygen sufficiency before entering.
  • Educate employees about sources and conditions that may result in carbon monoxide poisoning, as well as the symptoms.

Why Choose McIntosh Corporation?

At McIntosh Corporation, our trained service technicians are on call 24 hours a day, ready and equipped to handle your mechanical systems and keep your building operating smoothly. Do not wait until one of your systems is malfunctioning. Our scheduled maintenance programs will keep your equipment safe, extend its life, and have it operating with maximum efficiency. If you are concerned about carbon monoxide levels in your facility, contact or call us today to schedule a visit from our team