Beware of the Invisible Killer

The recent carbon monoxide poisoning deaths of three hotel guests in North Carolina is shedding light on how incredibly dangerous the gas is. According to news reports, an elderly couple unexpectedly died in a hotel room and two months later an 11-year-old boy died in the same room. His mother was hospitalized in critical condition. It was only after the boy’s death that it was discovered the cause was carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is lethal at high levels. Because it’s impossible to see, smell or taste the gas, it can build up to levels so high you’re dead before you realize what’s happening.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, symptoms of low level exposure to the gas are similar to the flu and include dizziness, headache, nausea and fatigue. They also vary by person depending on age and overall health as well as length of exposure.

Carbon monoxide comes from unvented kerosene and gas space heaters, generators, leaking chimneys and furnaces and back-drafting from stoves, furnaces and water heaters. It can also leak through automobile exhaust from attached garages, tobacco smoke and worn or poorly maintained combustion devices.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 170 people die by unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning each year in the United States. However, there are several steps you can take to make sure your exposure is minimal.

First, make sure combustion equipment is maintained and properly adjusted. Additional ventilation can be used as a temporary measure when high levels of carbon monoxide are expected for short periods of time. All generators should be put outside. Install and use an exhaust fan vented to outside over gas stoves. Open flues when fireplaces are in use. Do not idle the car inside a garage.

Install carbon monoxide detectors in your home! Install an alarm in the hallway in front of every separate sleeping area in your home.
If you feel you have symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, get outside into the fresh air immediately. Call the fire department to check the levels of carbon monoxide and see a doctor.

About the Author...
Liz Hayes
Liz loves spending time outdoors, working out, traveling, taking in the arts, reading and catching up on TV.
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