In culture after culture, people believe that the soul lives on after death, that rituals can change the physical world and divine the truth, and that illness and misfortune are caused and alleviated by spirits, ghosts, saints ... and gods.

STEVEN PINKER, How the Mind Works

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Is it a ghost or Carbon Monoxide?

Good ghost hunters approach each case they investigate with an air of skepticism. It's not that we want to doubt witnesses or don't want to believe in an afterlife; it's that we have learned through years of research that humans are fallible and many seemingly normal things in the world can produce out of the ordinary results. So what if some hauntings are the result of something very normal in some homes, such as an old furnace?

Old buildings and hauntings seem to go hand in hand. Yes, the older a building is the more likely it is to have experienced something either dramatic or traumatic that could have left an energy imprint behind and resulted in a haunting, but older buildings are also more likely to have an older heating system, fireplace or low-efficiency water heater that runs on natural fuel. As the natural fuel is consumed by these systems, carbon monoxide (CO) is emitted as a by-product and must be safely vented out of the area. If not properly vented, CO poisoning, which accounts for approximately half of the poisoning deaths in the US each year, can occur.
Many times, people experiencing hauntings give very similar accounts.
  • It's an older home or building.
  • Everyone and everything was fine when the family moved in.
  • One or more family members started feeling watched, experiencing anxiety, etc.
  • This was followed by flu-like symptoms, such as occasional headaches and nausea, pallor and drowsiness.
  • And then some family members developed memory problems, paranoia and began to see things.
  • The family pets were even affected
  • Everything slowly returned to normal after the family left the haunted site.
While not to say hauntings haven't happened through the years, if this scenario occurs in a place with a badly ventilated, natural-fuel system of some type, then a carbon monoxide leak must be taken into account since the above are also symptoms of slow CO poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas, so many people never realize they have it in their home until it's too late. That's why CO is often referred to as a "silent killer." Sadly, early symptoms are even frequently missed by physicians due to their similarity to the flu. Since the source of CO is usually a badly ventilated, natural-fuel-consuming system, it also explains why it's most common in the winter, as that's when those systems are most likely to be used in a home.
Interestingly, reports of hauntings spike in the winter as well. Because of that correlation, any time a paranormal investigator is called in to a document a haunting, especially if activity peaks in the colder months, a carbon monoxide check should be conducted. It could save lives. ( Above taken from "".)

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