Please, take the time to learn about carbon monoxide and protect yourself and your family from poisoning.

Carbon Monoxide is lighter than air. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a subject that people know very little about. Not only can it kill you, it can cause permanent neurological damage in the long term. In the short term, it can make you feel ill and inhibit your life potential.

Carbon monoxide is produced by the incomplete combustion of the fossil fuels — gas, oil, coal and wood used in boilers, engines, oil burners, gas fires, water heaters, solid fuel appliances and open fires.

Dangerous amounts of carbon monoxide can accumulate as a result of poor installation, poor maintenance or failure or damage to an appliance in service, the fuel is not burned properly, or when rooms are poorly ventilated and the carbon monoxide is unable to escape.

Having no smell, taste or color, in today's world of improved insulation and double glazing, it has become increasingly important to have good ventilation, maintain all appliances regularly, and to have absolutely reliable detector alarms installed giving both a visual and audible warning immediately when carbon monoxide builds up to dangerous levels.

An easy way to understand carbon monoxide is by comparing it to smoke from a fire. Visible smoke from a fire is a particulate which is heavier than air, but it rapidly rises to the ceiling because of the heat. The same applies for carbon monoxide, when spilled from an appliance, it will rise to the ceiling and will always be at higher concentration near the ceiling.

No smell and no taste and no color are the reasons that carbon monoxide detectors are the only way to alert you to increasingly dangerous levels of carbon monoxide before tragedy strikes. Placement of a carbon monoxide detector should be on a wall near the ceiling or on the ceiling but 6 to 12 inches away from where the wall meets the ceiling.

Carbon monoxide alarms are available in battery-operated and AC models as well as digital displays that either directly plug into an outlet or have a cord. Models of both type meet UL 2034-98.

Install the carbon monoxide alarm near sleeping areas so that the alarm is easily heard by people during the night when they are sleeping. What are the effects of carbon monoxide? Carbon monoxide produces the following physiological effects on people exposed to the concentrations shown: 50 parts per million (ppm) is a safety level as specified by the Health and Safety Executive. 200 PPM will give a slight headache within 2-3 hours; 400 PPM frontal headache within 1-2 hours, becoming widespread in 3 hours; and 800 PPM gives dizziness, nausea, convulsions within 45 minutes, insensible in 2 hours.

Carbon monoxide poisons by entering the lungs via the normal breathing mechanism and displacing oxygen from the bloodstream. Interruption of the normal supply of oxygen puts the functions of the heart, brain and other vital functions of the body at risk.

The above information is for a healthy adult. Persons suffering from heart or respiratory health problems, infants and small children, unborn children, expectant mothers and pets can be affected by carbon monoxide poisoning more quickly than others in the household and may be the first to show symptoms.