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Old 22-05-2013, 12:35   #1
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Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

Although not taking place on our boat, previous threads about non-vented appliances on board prompt me to post this. I took a week off to go work on our small cottage located in the interior of BC. I arrived on Saturday afternoon, and began work on our vaulted ceiling the following morning, installing pine over insulation/vapour barrier. I took the morning chill off using our 23,000 btu unvented kerosene heater, and installed pine most of the morning. The next day I got a call from my wife, and after a brief conversation, she told me to get out of the cabin, and that something was wrong with me. After questioning me, she made me realize I didn't remember why I was at the cabin, how I got there, how long I had been there, and why my wife wasn't there. I had no memory of other family members who had been there, and when they left, about 6 hours before. I don't remember it, but I had told my wife that I had been "not feeling well" for the last couple of days, and repeated things over and over. There was some discussion about calling a neighbor or an ambulance, but I decided to sleep on it in another cabin, and see how I felt the next day. I was normal the next morning, and drove 6 hours home, and directly to the hospital. During the drive, most of my memories of the weekend began returning, and I remembered feeling nauseous several times during the weekend, and also remembered the heat from the heater being concentrated at the peak of the ceiling where I worked for at least a few hours. Blood tests showed no carbon monoxide, but they said it would have had time to disappear by the time I had the test.
We were unable to conclusively prove CO poisoning, but given the circumstances, very likely. ( I have no history otherwise.) I found a CO alarm for only $25, and I would conclude that using unvented appliances on a boat to be very risky under most circumstances, but almost suicidal without the use of a carbon monoxide detector, given how cheap they are. Any combustion appliance can produce fatal amounts of CO in a confined space such as a boat, and depleting the oxygen results in incomplete combustion and much higher levels of that odourless and toxic gas. Don't use unvented appliances, but if you do, please use a carbon monoxide detector.
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Old 22-05-2013, 12:45   #2
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Re: carbon monoxide poisoning (?)

Did your skin start turning into blotches of cherry red color? It is one of many signs of CO poisoning. Another symptom, you start having a severe headache and can't wait to get some sleep. It is in that sleep phase, that people expire. Mauritz
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Old 22-05-2013, 14:34   #3
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Re: carbon monoxide poisoning (?)

Be sure to mount the CO sensor high, not low, if the instructions don't tell you to. I was surprised to find that CO is the same weight as normal air and mixes freely. It doesn't lie low like C02.
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Old 22-05-2013, 14:34   #4
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Re: carbon monoxide poisoning (?)

Good reminder, detectors are cheap
FUMES KILL MUM AND GIRL, 10, ON BOAT HOL | The Sun |News
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Old 22-05-2013, 14:51   #6
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Re: carbon monoxide poisoning (?)

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Originally Posted by Teknav View Post
Did your skin start turning into blotches of cherry red color? It is one of many signs of CO poisoning. ...
To clarify on this; red skin coloring is only occasionally seen in CO poisioning (if seen most often lips and mucus membranes) and is not a reliable sign. Lots of victims only show pale skin (but never bluish). Most common signs/symptoms: Headach, confusion, vertigo, lightheadness, sometimes vomiting.
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Old 22-05-2013, 14:57   #7
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Re: carbon monoxide poisoning (?)

A friend of mine ended up with Parkinson's triggered by long term low level CO poisoning. It was so bad that he committed suicide. Don't take any chances, get rid of unvented heaters other than electric ones. And make sure that the vented ones function correctly by getting it serviced regularly.
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Old 24-05-2013, 10:25   #8
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Re: carbon monoxide poisoning (?)

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The initial findings of the investigation were published today

http://www.maib.gov.uk/cms_resources...le=/SB2_13.pdf
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Old 27-05-2013, 13:02   #9
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Re: carbon monoxide poisoning (?)

Lead story in this morning's news was about a double fatality yesterday here in the Vancouver area from CO poisoning. They lived in a mobile home of some kind, and apparently died from the exhaust fumes from a generator, virtually the same situation as above. I went back to the cabin this weekend, and installed a carbon monoxide detector. It has a sealed battery which is rated to last the entire life of the unit, which is ten years, and cost about $40. No wiring or battery replacement to worry about, and you don't even need to install it, just lie it on a shelf somewhere. Cheap insurance.
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Old 27-05-2013, 13:37   #10
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Re: carbon monoxide poisoning (?)

When I had CO poisoning I had a severe headache and loud ringing in the ears. New research out of Utah finds that people may have neurological symptoms years after a CO overdose, even when it was treated aggressively and the patient appeared to recover. Make sure this episode is part of your permanent medical record.
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Old 27-05-2013, 13:40   #11
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When I had CO poisoning I had a severe headache and loud ringing in the ears. New research out of Utah finds that people may have neurological symptoms years after a CO overdose, even when it was treated aggressively and the patient appeared to recover. Make sure this episode is part of your permanent medical record.
I think I wrote it on CF before: a friend of mine got Parkinsons after chronic CO poisoning. He was 35 years old.
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Old 27-05-2013, 15:13   #12
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Re: carbon monoxide poisoning (?)

Must be in some other article.
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Old 27-05-2013, 17:35   #13
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If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning don't trust a high reading from a pulse oximeter. The reason is the CO binds to the hemoglobin and mimics the oxyhemoglobin state so the pulse ox doesn't know it's carbon monoxide instead of oxygen on the hemoglobin and gives a high reading.

With pulse oximeters being very cheap and prevalent these day, this should be in their manual but in most its not.
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Old 27-05-2013, 17:47   #14
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Re: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

the reasons for the late onset of symptoms is that co never leaves the blood...it replaces the hemoglobin with carboxyhemoglobin..not good. never leaves system completely.
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Old 27-05-2013, 19:22   #15
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Re: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

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the reasons for the late onset of symptoms is that co never leaves the blood...it replaces the hemoglobin with carboxyhemoglobin..not good. never leaves system completely.

>Blood tests showed no carbon monoxide, but they said it would have had time to disappear by the time I had the test. <

Well I wouldn't say CO stays in the blood forever. With zero CO in your lungs you would have a very high diffusion gradient which would cause the CO to slowly diffuse out of the blood and be exhaled. If CO stayed in the blood forever you might expect it to accumulate and we would all be dead. Since you are usually exposed to some CO all the time, especially in a city with cars, it probably is true that a small percentage of your hemoglobin is compromised all the time but not enough to cause problems.

As for the original post, it does not really sound like CO poisoning since there was no severe headache or dizziness, classic symptoms. Could be dehydration or even a mild stroke.
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