Carbon monoxide a concern in areaAn increasing number of Jamestown residents are calling to have their carbon monoxide levels checked. Because more people are buying carbon monoxide detectors, the Jamestown Fire Department has seen a few more calls, according to Jim Reuther, fire chief of the Jamestown Fire Department.
By: By Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
An increasing number of Jamestown residents are calling to have their carbon monoxide levels checked.
Because more people are buying carbon monoxide detectors, the Jamestown Fire Department has seen a few more calls, according to Jim Reuther, fire chief of the Jamestown Fire Department.
Reuther said the majority of the calls the department receives are battery problems rather than actual detection of the toxic gas. It can come from a car, a fireplace, a furnace and any gas appliance, he said,
The fire department encourages residents to have a carbon monoxide detectors in their homes and to check the batteries regularly. Some people confuse the smell of sewer gas with carbon monoxide, he said.
Several Jamestown residents have called the fire department in the past month because of sewer gas backing up in their homes after ice clogged rooftop vents.
“Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, that’s why it’s called the silent killer,” Reuther said.
When the fire department receives a call, two firefighters acting as the ready squad are sent to locations that report carbon monoxide detector activations.
“That’s part of the job to do these calls,” Reuther said. “It’s a daily routine.”
The ready squad will ask the occupants questions and use a multi-gas detector to obtain various readings around the residence, Reuther said. The multi-gas detector can detect the concentration of carbon monoxide in the air.
At .02 percent, a person will experience a slight headache, tiredness, dizziness and nausea after two to three hours. When carbon monoxide levels are at .16 percent, nausea kicks in within 20 minutes, and when levels reach 1.28 percent, a person will die in one to three minutes, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Effects can vary significantly based on age, sex, weight and overall state of health.
In the body, oxygen is carried by red blood cells with hemoglobin, said Dr. John Brauner, chairman of the biology department at Jamestown College. Carbon monoxide binds with the hemoglobin and prevents oxygen from being carried to the cells. Without oxygen, the cells die.
This causes a person’s supply of oxygen to the brain and other muscles being cut off and will sometimes result in coma or death.
With the cold winter months people tend to use their furnaces more and anything that burns creates carbon monoxide, according to Kevin Sell, a certified specialist in poison information at the North Dakota Poison Control Center.
Headaches, dizziness and nausea are symptoms of carbon monoxide and individuals with heart disease or a respiratory disease are more at risk, Sell said. He said he encourages people to leave the residence and get their appliances checked if their carbon monoxide detector goes off.
“It’s not uncommon to have a small amount of carbon monoxide in your home, below .005 percent,” said Reuther.
Anything over .005 percent can be dangerous, according to OSHA.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by e-mail at email@example.com