Know the Dangers of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Every year, accidental carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning kills at least 430 people and causes emergency room visits for approximately 50,000 people in the US, according to stats from the Centers for Disease Control. 

CO is found in fumes produced by furnaces, kerosene heaters, vehicles “warming up” in garages, lanterns, gas stoves, portable generators, and also from burning charcoal and wood. CO from these sources can build up in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces. Since it’s a colorless, odorless gas, people don’t recognize that these fatally harmful fumes are increasing, and unfortunately, these toxic fumes can overcome people without warning. 

The effects of severe carbon monoxide poisoning are serious:

  • Neurological damage
  • Illness
  • Coma
  • Death

CO poisoning is entirely preventable. You can protect yourselves, your co-workers, and your family by learning the symptoms and knowing the steps to prevent poisoning. 

The most common symptoms of exposure are:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Tightness across the chest
  • Confusion

Unfortunately, people who are sleeping or have been drinking alcohol can die from CO poisoning before ever having symptoms. 

Key CO Poisoning Prevention Tips

  • Change the batteries in your CO detector every six months
  • Make a point to have a qualified professional service your heating system, water heater, and any other gas-, oil-, or coal-burning appliances
  • Keep vents and flues free of debris
  • Never leave the motor running in a vehicle that’s parked in an enclosed/partially enclosed space, such as a garage, or within 20’ of an open window, door, or vent
  • Do not use a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine indoors or in enclosed/partially enclosed spaces such as crawl spaces, garages, or basements
  • When using a generator, make sure it has 3’-4’ of clear space on all sides and above it to ensure adequate ventilation
  • Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside a home, camper, or tent
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