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Doctor Blogger--Carbon Monoxide in the Cold

Posted Nov 18 2008 9:18am
                                                                                 2005_0918carshow0106 by Timon


Poison Control Centers Warn of Cold Weather Dangers from Carbon Monoxide                                    

(Alexandria, VA):  The onset of cold weather greatly increases the chances for exposure
to poisonous carbon monoxide (CO) gas as consumers increase their use of appliances
such as space heaters and portable generators, warns the American Association of Poison
Control Centers (AAPCC).  Every year, hundreds of deaths and many thousands of illnesses
result from exposure to CO.

Among the numerous potential sources of CO are furnaces, water heaters, stoves, ovens,
space heaters, wood and gas fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, portable generators and
automobile engines.

"All fuel powered engines produce CO gas," explains AAPCC Board Member Edward P.
Krenzelok, PharmD, director of the Pittsburgh Poison Center.  "Although such devices are
safe if used correctly, a malfunction or improper ventilation can make these common
household appliances deadly."  

Carbon monoxide gas is lethal, even though it is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. It
may kill quickly or slowly, and the warning signs specific to carbon monoxide are also
common to the flu and food poisoning. Even when it is not fatal, carbon monoxide can
cause permanent damage to the brain and other parts of the nervous system.  Symptoms
include aches, dizziness, headache, confusion, and other symptoms also found with flu
and typical cold-weather viruses.

AAPCC suggest taking some simple steps to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:

·   Have all of your combustion appliances and especially your furnace inspected and
adjusted before every heating season.

·   Have your chimney, fireplace, and wood stoves, and flues inspected before every
heating season.

·   Have chimneys and flues repaired as needed.

·   Do not use charcoal grills indoors for cooking or heating.

·   Do not use your oven for heating your home.

·   Do not leave your car’s engine running in an enclosed or attached garage, even if
the door is open.

·   Install a carbon monoxide alarm outside of every sleeping area in your home.

Poison control centers around the country are prepared to respond with information and
treatment advice about CO poisoning.  To reach a local poison center call 1-800-222-1222.  
More information about CO poisoning may be found on the AAPCC’s Website at
http://www.aapcc.org .

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