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Carbon Monoxide: The Other Silent Killer

By on April 2, 2012
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide (CO) kills! It’s found in combustion fumes like those produced by cars and trucks, small gas engines, stoves, burning charcoal and wood, and even gas ranges. CO from these sources can build up to lethal levels in enclosed or semi-enclosed spaces. People and animals in these spaces can be poisoned by simply breathing it. It’s a silent killer that can be stopped.

All of us and our animals are at risk for CO poisoning. But certain vulnerable groups like  unborn babies, infants, the elderly, and people with chronic heart disease, anemia, or respiratory problems are even more susceptible to its effects.

Prevent Carbon Monoxide Exposure

  • Do have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced every year.
  • Do install a battery-operated CO detector in your home and check the condition of the device annually. If the detector sounds leave your home immediately and call 911.
  • Do contact a medical provider immediately if you suspect CO poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseous.
  • Don’t use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, or garage.

It’s critical to be able to recognize the symptoms of CO poisoning, they include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, and confusion. High levels of CO inhalation can cause loss of consciousness and death. Unless suspected, CO poisoning can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms mimic other illnesses. Breathing fresh air by moving to a well ventilated space, opening a window, door, etc. can literally save your life.  And most critical is to be sure to get a working carbon monoxide detector and if you are buying a new home, be sure to ask about it from the seller.

To raise awareness about CO exposure at home with your family or in the workplace, click here for more information.

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