Jan. 5, 2005
Faulty Furnaces and Appliances May Cause Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Each year in America, carbon monoxide poisoning claims approximately 165 lives and sends another 10,000 people to hospital emergency rooms for treatment. Carbon monoxide, or CO, is a colorless, odorless gas that is produced when natural gas, propane or other fossil fuels fail to burn completely. CO gas can come from appliances such as furnaces, charcoal grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, generators, small gasoline engines, and motor vehicles. Because it is impossible to see, taste, or smell the toxic fumes, CO can kill you before you are aware it is in your home.
At lower levels of exposure, CO causes mild effects that are often mistaken for the flu. The effects of CO exposure can vary greatly from person to person depending on age, overall health, and length of exposure. Medical experts believe that unborn babies, infants, children, senior citizens and people with heart or lung problems are at even greater risk for CO poisoning.
Exposure to CO can cause loss of consciousness and death. The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. People who are sleeping or who have been drinking alcohol can die from CO poisoning before ever having symptoms. If you think you may have CO poisoning, leave the building or vehicle you are in, and call 911 right away.
How to Protect Your Family from CO Poisoning:
Here are some safety tips from the National Center for Environmental Health, U.S. Fire Administration, and National Association of Home Builders to help keep your family safe this winter.
If your carbon monoxide alarm goes off and no one is feeling ill:
If your carbon monoxide alarm goes off and someone is feeling ill:
More information about carbon monoxide poisoning is available from the National Center for Environmental Health at www.cdc.gov/nceh/airpollution/carbonmonoxide/default.htm
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