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The Invisible Killer: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

By HERWriter
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silent-poisoning-by-carbon-monoxide iStockphoto/Thinkstock

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ʺeach year more than 400 Americans die from unintentional [carbon monoxide] CO poisoning, more than 20,000 visit the emergency room and more than 4,000 are hospitalized due to CO poisoning. Fatality is highest among Americans 65 and older.ʺ

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) stated that ʺCarbon monoxide is produced by burning fuel. Therefore, any fuel-burning appliance in your home is a potential CO source.ʺ

Also, the CPSC revealed, ʺImproperly operating appliances can produce fatal CO concentrations in your home. Running a car or generator in an attached garage can cause fatal CO poisoning in the home. So can running a generator or burning charcoal in the basement, crawlspace, or living area of the home. ʺ

CO poisoning is known as the invisible killer because it is odorless and colorless. Many people do not realize they are being unintentionally poisoned by carbon monoxide.

CO poisoning does not discriminate. Everyone including your pets may be at risk. Those most susceptible include:

• people with respiratory problems
• unborn babies
• infants
• people with chronic heart disease
• people with anemia
• people with respiratory issues

The U.S. National Library of Medicine website stated the most common symptoms of CO poisoning include the following:

• Nausea
• Confusion
• Headache
• Chest pain
• Dizziness
• Vomiting
• Weakness

According to the CPSC, you should implement the following steps if you believe you are experiencing CO poisoning:

• Seek fresh air immediately
• Leave the area immediately
• Call for assistance from a neighbor’s home (You could lose consciousness and die from CO poisoning if you stay in the home.)
• Seek medical attention immediately
• Inform medical staff that CO poisoning is suspected
• Call the Fire Department to determine when it is safe to re-enter the home

To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning the CPSC recommends the following:

• Install battery-operated CO alarms or plug-in CO alarms with battery back-up in your home

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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