You can’t see it and you can’t smell it, but it can kill you. In sends more than 15,000 people to America’s emergency rooms every year and claims hundreds of lives. It could be in your home right now.
The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) reports that carbon monoxide poisoning incidents increase during the winter, when people use heating devices, stoves, and portable generators without proper ventilation. During a recent blizzard in Boston, a young boy tried to stay warm in a car, but the exhaust pipe was covered in snow, forcing carbon monoxide to enter the car.
“This colorless, odorless gas is deadly if you don’t take precautionary steps or notice the symptoms,” said Dr. Andrew Sama, president of the ACEP. “Thinking about it now and acting to prevent the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning may save your life and the lives of those around you.”
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
- chest pain
Symptoms are similar to those of the flu, cautions Dr. Sama. “People should be concerned about the possible presence of carbon monoxide if more than one person living or working together develops these symptoms simultaneously over a short period of time.”
If you have symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, call 9-1-1 immediately.
How to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisining
- Have gas appliances installed or maintained by a qualified professional.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, especially near sleeping areas.
- Never leave a motor running of a vehicle parked in an enclosed garage.
- Do not use portable flameless chemical heaters indoors. Even if they don’t have flames, they burn case and release carbon monoxide in your homes, cabins or campers.
- Never use a charcoal grill indoors.
- Make sure all gas appliances (grills, camp stoves, power tools, generators, etc.) are properly vented so that carbon monoxide does not build in homes, cabins or campers.
- Turn on the exhaust fan over your gas stove when using it.
- Never burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t vented.
- Have your chimney checked and cleaned every year.
- Make sure fireplace flues are open during use.
For more information on carbon monoxide poisoning, visit: www.EmergencyCareForYou.org.
Source: ACEP, the national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine.
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