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Front Page » December 23, 2008 » Carbon County News » Poison center emphasizes carbon monoxide dangers
Published 2,477 days ago

Poison center emphasizes carbon monoxide dangers

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Carbon monoxide poisoning kills an estimated 500 people annually and sends approximately 20,000 victims to emergency rooms nationwide.

In Utah, 314 cases of carbon monoxide poisoning and 23 related deaths were reported in 2006, the latest data available.

During the winter season, the risk for carbon monoxide poisoning increases.

Carbon County residents need to know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and exercise precautions to prevent the incidents from occurring.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, invisible gas produced when gasoline, natural gas, propane, kerosene and other fuels are not completely burned during use, explained the University of Utah's poison control center.

Automobile exhaust is the most common source of carbon monoxide. But small gas engines, camp lanterns and stoves, charcoal grills, gas ranges and furnaces also produce carbon monoxide. pointed out the poison control center.

When appliances and furnaces are improperly adjusted and used in poorly ventilated areas, dangerous amounts of carbon monoxide can build up in the blood, replacing the oxygen and potentially cause asphyxiation.

Although everyone is susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning, unborn babies, infants, the elderly and people with respiratory problems are particularly at risk, noted the U of U center.

Because the gas is invisible and odorless, it is important to know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and immediately seek medical assistance if the warning signs occur.

According to the control center, the most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:

Persistent, severe headaches and dizziness, usually affecting more than one person in an enclosed area.

Nausea, vomiting and fatigue.

The symptoms generally disappear when the affected individuals leave the enclosed area.

If the presence of carbon monoxide is suspected based on the symptoms, Carbon County residents should evacuate the structure, call 9-1-1 or contact the U of U Poison Control Center toll-free at 1-800-222-1222.

People can avoid carbon monoxide poisoning through several simple prevention measures and common sense, according to the control center.

For example, most fire-related carbon monoxide poisonings can be prevented by the proper installation and maintenance of smoke detectors.

To alleviate the potential risks and prevent carbon monoxide poisoning incidents, the U of U control center recommends that Carbon County residents consider:

•Having heating systems, water heaters and all gas-, oil- or coal-burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.

•Installing an Underwriters Laboratory approved monitor on every level of the homes.

People should check or replace the batteries in the carbon monoxide detectors when they change the time on clocks each spring and fall.

Installing a carbon monoxide monitor should never be a substitute for a professional inspection of home heating and cooking equipment.

Owners of boats and recreational vehicles with propane stoves or heaters should also install carbon monoxide detectors.

•Inspecting homes and structures after heavy snowfall.

People should make certain that the snow is removed from around exhaust stacks, vents and fresh air intakes.

•In the event a carbon monoxide monitor alarms continuously, people should evacuate the structures and call 911 or the local gas company.

If the alarm is only intermittent, local residents should change the batteries in the devices.

If anyone displays symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, people should immediately call 9-1-1 or contact the U of U Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222.

Local residents should seek prompt medical attention if they suspect carbon monoxide poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed or nauseated, stressed the U of U center.

•Never use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove and gasoline- or charcoal-burning devices inside homes, basements, garages or near windows.

•Never rung a car, sports utility vehicle or pickup truck inside a garage attached to houses even if the doors are open.

•Do not burn anything in an unvented stove or fireplace.

•Never heat a house with a gas oven.

Knowledge is the key to preventing carbon monoxide poisoning, concluded the U of U control center.

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