According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning every year. More than 20,000 visit the emergency room, and more than 4,000 others are hospitalized. These scenarios are most common in colder climates, but even in sunny South Florida, a few chilly days a year are all it takes to leave our population susceptible to carbon monoxide related problems.
Carbon monoxide is known as the silent killer, because it is a colorless, odorless gas that often goes undetected. It typically impacts victims when they least expect it. They’re caught totally off guard or they may be asleep.
Carbon monoxide can be produced by burning fuel in cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, portable generators or furnaces. When the gas builds up in enclosed spaces, people or animals who breathe it can be poisoned. Even ventilation from opening a door or window does not guarantee safety.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission says about 170 people in the United States die every year from carbon monoxide produced by non-automotive consumer products, such as room heaters. While most of us know that we shouldn’t run a vehicle in a closed garage, fewer people remember to take precautions as the weather turns colder. Be sure to protect your family and pets this winter.
In carbon monoxide cases, several members of the same family or those in a given building will often complain of the same symptoms. Some people may not suspect that CO poisoning is occurring until major symptoms appear. Carbon Monoxide poisoning can mimic gastroenteritis (nausea and vomiting). Other manifestations may cause the appearance of what may appear to be a neurological or psychiatric disorder. High risk groups include infants, the elderly, pregnant women, and anyone with a previous history of cardiac insufficiency or chronic obstructive lung disease.
Here are five ways to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning this winter:
- Hire a qualified technician to service your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances every year.
- Install a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. If the detector sounds leave your home immediately and call 911.
- If you are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseated, or have any reason to suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, seek medical attention immediately.
- Do not use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, garage or near a window.
- Don’t run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open.
At Abramowitz, Pomerantz & Morehead, P.A., we are interested in protecting your safety and rights. If you’ve had an accident related to carbon monoxide poisoning, you may have a case and we would love to hear from you.