Stay Safe and Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

December 19, 2013

Stay Safe and Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

 When cooler temperatures hit closer to home, medics at Harris County Emergency Corps (HCEC) have a heightened awareness of the potential for patients with carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon Monoxide poisoning mimics other illnesses and can sometimes be difficult to diagnose. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 400 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and/or death. The most common symptoms are dizziness, headache, weakness, nausea, vomiting, confusion and chest pain.  Leakages in heating systems, gas ranges, portable heaters, burning charcoal or wood, engines, stoves, lanterns and fumes by cars and trucks produce carbon monoxide. When enclosed in a confined space such as a house or garage, carbon monoxide can become lethal for both people and animals.

According to the CDC, you can prevent carbon monoxide poisoning by taking several steps:

–        Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.

–        Do not use portable flameless chemical heaters indoors. Although these heaters don’t have a flame, they burn gas and can cause carbon monoxide to build up inside your home, cabin or camper.

–        If you smell an odor from your gas refrigerator’s cooling unit have an expert service it. An odor from the cooling unit of your gas refrigerator can mean you have a defect in the cooling unit and could be releasing carbon monoxide.

–        When purchasing gas equipment, buy only equipment carrying the seal of a national testing agency, such as the CSA Group.

–        Install a battery-operated or battery back-up carbon monoxide detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall.

–        Have a mechanic check the exhaust system of your car every year. A small leak in your car’s exhaust system can lead to a buildup of carbon monoxide inside the car.

–        Never run a car or truck inside the garage with the garage door shut. Carbon monoxide can build up quickly while your car or truck is running in a closed garage.

–        If you drive a vehicle with a tailgate, when you open the tailgate, you also need to open vents or windows to make sure air is moving through your car. If the tailgate is open carbon monoxide from the exhaust will be pulled into the car.

For more tips on safely cooking and connecting heating equipment, visit www.cdc.gov/co. Harris County Emergency Corps is here for you when you need us. Call 9-1-1 if you or someone you know is having a medical emergency.

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