What is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is caused by incomplete combustion of carbon-based fuel. Carbon based fuels include all fuels such as gas, gasoline, kerosene, propane, heating oil, etc. Other fuels that may produce CO include wood, plastic, paper, candles etc. Anything that is used to power a combustion engine, or produces a flame can emit carbon monoxide. Carbon Monoxide is colorless, tasteless, and odorless gas, which is virtually impossible for human senses to detect.
So deadly, it has been given the nickname “The Silent Killer”.
How Does CO Affect Me?
CO in high concentrations can be lethal in just minutes. Oxygen when inhaled, bonds with the hemoglobin in your blood that is then carried to the cells in your body. The bond between Carbon Monoxide and hemoglobin (called carboxyhemoglobin or COHb) is 200 times stronger than the bond between oxygen and hemoglobin. Having this strong bond with the hemoglobin in your blood, CO deprives your body of the oxygen it needs to survive. The more CO in your blood, the difficult it is for your body to eliminate the CO.
The longer you are subjected to Carbon Monoxide, the higher the level of CO in your bloodstream becomes. Slowly (in low levels) the CO starves the cells in your body of oxygen which supports sensitive organs such as the heart, brain and nervous system eventually causing loss of consciousness, brain damage, com and even death.
How To Prevent Them
The most common cause for cooking fires is lack of attention. Either the telephone rings, someone comes to the door, or your child calls you into the other room leaving the evenings’ dinner on the stove unattended. If you must leave the stove, be safe and turn the heat off.
Pay attention to what you are cooking. Do not overheat grease. Watch out for grease overflow in the pan, remove excess liquid and place into a metal container away from heat source. Be extremely careful not to spill and burn yourself.
Be aware your surroundings. Move paper towels, dishrags, potholders, curtains etc. away from stove area. Never wear draping garments and be sure to pull long hair back while around the stove. Turn skillet and pot handles in towards the center of the stovetop to avoid overturning them.
Have a “Class ABC” (to be used for Ordinary Combustibles, Grease and Electrical fires) fire extinguisher in the kitchen.
What Is Natural Gas?
Natural Gas is mostly methane, a natural compound. Plants and animal, which died millions of years ago and were buried in mud and sand, probably at the bottoms of lakes and oceans created the natural gas we use today.
As sediment built up on the organisms, layers of rock were formed which placed pressure on the organisms sending them deeper and deeper into the earth. This pressure, coupled with the earths heat slowly changed the organic materials into natural gas and crude oil. The products formed are called fossil fuels.
The natural gas vapors collect in pockets of porous rock just as air bubbles collect beneath the surface of ice. It is from these pockets where we today mine the fuel for heating and cooking in our homes and businesses.
What Are The Dangers?
Natural Gas is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless vapor which is highly flammable. A chemical called Mercaptan is added to the vapor by gas companies to give it an odor so that its presence may be detected in the air.
Cooking and heating equipment that goes without proper maintenance may become a serious gas leak hazard resulting in a fire or explosion.
What To Do If You Smell Natural Gas
If you detect the presence of a natural gas leak, leave the area immediately and dial 9-1-1. Because of its volatile nature, trying to locate the leak on your own could be very dangerous. If you smell gas in your home, leave doors and window open and call from a neighbor’s house. DO NOT switch lights on or off, or do anything that could create a spark which could ignite the fuel.