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Danger of Carbon Monoxide (CO)

Posted Jun 16 2013 10:19am

Carbon Monoxide is a dangerous substance if it goes undetected in your home. Accoding to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 500 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning and 15,000 visit emergency rooms. I was seeing a teenage patient one day who has a rare genetic disorder and has to  use a wheelchair.  On taking a history, I discovered he had been  having frequent headaches. For some reason, I asked if any of the other family members were having headaches and discovered they all were having them.  I then found out they had a wall heater, which can be a source of carbon monoxide poisoning.

On returning home, the parents immediately called the gas company and yes, the  heater was defective and leaking carbon monoxide. The parents wre very grateful they had been to see me that day because the whole family could have been in real trouble.

The American Academy of  Pediatrics suggests that carbon monoxide detectors be installed in all houses,  particularly near bedrooms. If they go off, open windows, call for help immediately, and leave the  house. Children are particuaruly vulnerable to CO poisoning. A car should never be left idling in the garage even with the door open. Also an exhaust fan, vented to the outside, should be on if a gas stove is used and charcoal grills, kerosene heaters or portable stoves should not be used inside.   

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