How is Carbon Monoxide Measured

Candle flame begins to gutter?
Feeling a bit crook sat round the oil lamp
Was it really a good idea to cook in the tent?
As for a generator’s exhaust?
It contains enough poisonous CO to kill you in a matter of minutes if there is not adequate ventilation.

The smell of any fuel burning or engine running is nothing compared with the lethal product of combustion that is colourless, odourless, tasteless and non-irritating, called Carbon Monoxide. (CO).

It kills by binding to your red blood cells ( 240 times greater than oxygen can) preventing them from taking in the oxygen that you need to live. This exposure leads to oxygen starvation or hypoxia. Ergo, you die.

Carbon Monoxide is measured in PPM (Points per Million)
Below are the levels and the health issues they cause:

  • Less Than 35 PPM– No effect to healthy adults.
  • 100 PPM– Slight headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, errors of judgement
  • 200 PPM– Headache, fatigue, nausea, dizziness.
  • 400 PPM- Severe headache, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, confusion, can be life-threatening after 3 hours of exposure.
  • 800 PPM- Headache, confusion, collapse, death if exposure is prolonged.
  • 1500 PPM- Headache, dizziness, nausea, convulsions, collapse, death within 1 hour.
  • 3000 PPM– Death within 30 minutes.
  • 6000 PPM– Death within 10 – 15 minutes.
  • 12,000 PPM– Nearly instant death.

Standard cure?
Put the source of the carbon monoxide out, GET OUT, ventilating the area AND YOU.
Only you might need a couple of minutes attached to an oxygen mask until all the CO has been displaced by the Oxygen. Which is fine and dandy until you start to live in an ‘austere’ or disaster scenario where hospitals are places to avoid, maybe full of the dead, or have been stripped bare.

Except there is that thing which I call foraging.
It’s usual for hospitals to have centralised oxygen supplies away from the main building and sub stores round the site. So just because the main building is empty or wreaked, look around the ‘outhouses’ before totally dismissing the chance of medical supplies.


What to use then when you can’t find medical grade oxygen?
Find a metal fabricators, wreckers yard, or a machine shop and look round for the oxyacetylene gear.

That tall bottle painted black and white and typically larger than the grey bottle marked acetylene? That’s oxygen and what you are after.

Only is it safe?
A subject of much discussion, the rules say no, i.e. only use medical grade.
Only them who have written those laws are probably dead as you search for the bottles.

Oxygen is oxygen and unless the bottle was filled years ago, it’s “PROBABLY” safe.
After that it’s how much do you suck and for how long?
Reading up on medical books it comes out as ANYTHING from 1 to 10 litres a minutes using masks or cannula. Which means very little in the back room of a workshop.

Bottom line is the oxygen will replace CO quickly only don’t stay hooked up to pure oxygen for too long. It can cause all sorts of observable effects.[Link]

Only there we have the answer to the time problem. Observable effects..
If someone is sucking pure O2 for a while and start to get worse or acting weird.
Shut off the gas. What, too simple?

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