Cold Weather Increases Chances of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

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Cold Weather Increases Chances of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Postby Wilberforce » Tue Jan 07, 2014 7:34 pm

Cold Weather Increases Chances of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning; Toxicologist Offers Advice

Jan. 7, 2014 — Temperatures in the next few days are predicted to be the coldest of the winter so far, and people using space heaters to get some extra warmth into their living and working spaces need to be aware of a potential "silent killer" inside their homes and offices -- carbon monoxide (CO).

Donna Seger, M.D., professor of Clinical Medicine and medical director of the Tennessee Poison Center at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, says that the symptoms of carbon monoxide are numerous and CO poisoning is known as the "great masquerader."

"Since carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas, you may not even be aware there is a problem in your home until it is too late," she said. "Frequent symptoms are headache and nausea, symptoms which make one believe that they have the flu or a viral illness."

Prolonged exposure can lead to other symptoms such as vomiting, chest pain and confusion, serious medical problems and even death. Poisonings from carbon monoxide are especially common during cold weather spells, as families increase the use of gas, oil and coal burning appliances.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, on average 170 people die every year in the United States from carbon monoxide poisoning from non-automobile consumer products, including malfunctioning fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, ranges, water heaters and room heaters; engine-powered equipment such as portable generators; fireplaces; and charcoal that is burned in homes and other enclosed areas.

"Carbon monoxide detectors should be in all homes with heating devices that have the potential to produce CO," Seger said. "These devices may be lifesaving. If a device sounds the alarm, the house should be vacated. The fire department can do measurements to determine the level of CO."

She said that treatment for CO poisoning is primarily with oxygen therapy, sometimes for 24 hours, and pregnant women should undergo hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Some patients (and it's hard to predict which ones) can also develop delayed symptoms such as memory and concentration defects, personality changes, psychiatric symptoms and neurologic defects.

Quick tips to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning:

· Install a CO alarm inside your home near all sleeping areas and test it monthly.

· Place the CO alarm at least 15 feet away from any fuel-burning appliances.

· Have gas, oil or coal-burning appliances, chimneys and fireplaces checked by a professional every year.

· Do not use a kitchen stove or oven to heat your home.

· Never use a grill, generator or camping stove inside your home, garage or basement.

· Do not leave your car or motorcycle engine running inside a garage, even with the garage door open.
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• The Surgeon General has determined that there is no safe level of exposure to ambient smoke!

• If you smell even a subtle odor of smoke, you are being exposed to poisonous and carcinogenic chemical compounds!

• Even a brief exposure to smoke raises blood pressure, (no matter what your state of health) and can cause blood clotting, stroke, or heart attack in vulnerable people. Even children experience elevated blood pressure when exposed to smoke!

• Since smoke drastically weakens the lungs' immune system, avoiding smoke is one of the best ways to prevent colds, flu, bronchitis, or risk of an even more serious respiratory illness, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis! Does your child have the flu? Chances are they have been exposed to ambient smoke!
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