Preventing the “Invisible Killer”: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

In the United States, more than 400 people lose their lives to unintentional carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning each year. Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas that is produced whenever fuel is burned. Homes with fuel-burning appliances or attached garages have an increased risk for CO problems. Popular fuel-burning devices are clothes dryers, water heaters, gas stoves and ovens, fireplaces, and even your vehicle.

Safety with these devices can greatly reduce your risk of poisoning from this invisible killer. Home owners should provide adequate ventilation for CO-producing appliances and vehicles and install CO alarms. Even with these precautions in place, you should also know the signs of poisoning and seek medical attention if anyone in your home starts to exhibit any symptoms.

Signs of low to moderate CO poisoning are:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

Signs of severe CO poisoning are:

  • Mental confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of muscular coordination
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Death

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