It is normal for someone to ask what carbon monoxide smells like. It shows how curious the person is. Besides, there is no harm in asking. However, the answer is very simple:
Carbon monoxide does not smell like anything. It is a gas that has no odor; meaning that if you’re in a room full of carbon monoxide, you may not know by its smell which if you continue to inhale, can be dangerous to your health. It can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning and death.
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What is Carbon Monoxide?
Anytime you hear of carbon monoxide, the first thing that should come to your mind is that:
- It is a silent killer
- It has no smell
- It has no taste
- It has no sound
- You cannot tell when you are breathing it
- It can be fatal
Being a by-product of combustion, carbon monoxide is something we experience every day both in our homes and outside our homes.
Some common household items like gas fires, oil-burning furnaces, portable generators, charcoal grills, portable ventless propane heaters, etc., are agents of carbon monoxide in the home.
That is why it’s good to always allow enough ventilation when making use of any of these agents of carbon monoxide in your homes.
Does Carbon Monoxide Have an Odor?
Carbon monoxide is known to be a gas that has no odor or smell. You cannot perceive it but can feel it and if you don’t get out of the place or allow enough ventilation in the room, can lead to carbon monoxide poison or death.
What Does Carbon Monoxide Smell Like?
Carbon Monoxide does have any odor, meaning that carbon monoxide does not smell like anything. It is a gas that has no odor, color, or taste but can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning or death if inhaled continuously.
The fact that carbon monoxide does not smell like anything doesn’t mean it is nothing or powerless. It is powerful. It does not have any smell yet it can be inhaled and we all know the end product of it. So the best way to be safe is to ensure that enough ventilation is entering inside the room.
For example, if you have a propane heater that you plan to use inside your house. Since we all know the portable vent-free propane heater produces carbon monoxide, to be on the safe side, you are advised to buy a propane heater that is safe to be used indoors and while using it, ensure that there is enough ventilation coming inside the room.
What Does Carbon Monoxide Smell Like in a House?
Carbon monoxide does not have any odor and, therefore, does not smell like anything in the house. The best way to know that there is carbon monoxide in the house is by installing a carbon monoxide detector. Once the device notices the availability of carbon monoxide in the house, it will alert anyone around to take immediate action.
How Can You Tell if there is Carbon Monoxide in Your House?
Since carbon monoxide has no smell/odor, taste, color, or sound, the best way to know that there is carbon monoxide in your house is by installing a carbon monoxide detector. Anytime the detector notices a carbon monoxide leak in the house, it will alert everyone available to take immediate action.
Another way to tell if your house is having a carbon monoxide leak is by a sooty or brownish-yellow stain around the leaking appliance.
Carbon monoxide does not have a color but when for example your car exhaust pipe is close to your house paint for a very long time while the car engine is on. You will notice a brownish or darkish stain on the wall. The stain is a result of the carbon monoxide that was continuously touching the wall nonstop.
How is Carbon Monoxide a Silent Killer?
What does it mean when one says that carbon monoxide is a silent killer? It means that it kills when you’re not aware. It takes people unaware and kills the person even without the person. Now, let me tell a story of what happened to my friend’s family.
I have a friend whose uncle is based in Africa, Nigeria to be precise. One day, he and his three friends traveled to the village for a burial ceremony. In the night, because there was no electricity that night, they turned on a generator and were watching TV.
After a while, they all slept. However, the man had invited a laborer to come to do some work in his house the next day. That early morning, the laborer came and was knocking at the entrance gate for the man to open the gate. No one came out, no one answered either. He called him on his cell phone and he did not answer.
The laborer could not go back home because he knew how serious the man sounded about the work, there is no way he could have gone back or out already that early morning.
He continued hitting at the gate. While doing that, he draws the neighbor’s attention. Everyone joined in the knock. Nobody answered. They had to jump over the fence. When they did, they entered the room and saw these three men lying lifeless on the bed.
Three of them died on that spot. These are able-bodied men full of life, with wives and children. They found out that it was the generator smoke that killed them because the gen went off when they were still knocking at the gate. That was when the fuel in the generator finished.
Trust me, carbon monoxide is a silent killer. If enough ventilation is not available in a room full of carbon monoxide. You may think you are OK, but the truth is that you are dying gradually. And it’s only a matter of time. The end result will be obvious.
How to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
The best way to prevent carbon monoxide poison is by allowing enough ventilation in the space where there are products that produce carbon monoxide. Open the window or door so that enough fresh air can enter the room to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning which can lead to death.
Many people have often asked how much ventilation is needed when using a propane heater to avoid carbon monoxide. The answer is enough ventilation, Make sure air comes and goes out of the room. Depending on the level of carbon monoxide.
If you are cooking in your kitchen, you can open the window for fresh air. But if you are in a room or closer to a generator set that produce more carbon monoxide, you are advised to open anything openable to ensure enough fresh air inside the room or go out of the room. Very important.
How Does Carbon Monoxide Kill?
The human body system is delicate even though some people claim to be strong. The human body system makes use of hemoglobin as a molecule in red blood cells to carry oxygen from the lungs to tissues all over the body and bring carbon dioxide back to the tissues.
However, when you are in a room filled with carbon monoxide, it will bind to hemoglobin over 200 times more easily than oxygen, therefore preventing oxygen from finding space to get into the hemoglobin as the space had already been occupied by the excess carbon monoxide you inhaled from the room.
Since the human body system needs oxygen to function, if that part of the human body lacks or is starved of oxygen, that part will die hence health complications with death the end product.
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
- You will feel like you have a flu
- Eventual loss of consciousness
- Vision problems
- Memory problems
- Loss of balance
- You will be confused
- You will not be breathing well.
Always visit your doctor or the hospital to have you checked anytime you expose yourself to excess carbon monoxide. You must see a physician. Very important
As reiterated earlier, asking what carbon monoxide smells like is a good question. Carbon monoxide does not have any smell or odor. It does not have any sound or taste. Therefore, if for example, you are working on your car in your garage, if the car engine is on, and your propane garage heater is on as well, ensure to leave the garage door open so that the carbon monoxide coming out of your car exhaust pipe can go out to avoid health complications.