An estimated 10,000 people receive medical treatment and hundreds die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas produced when fuels such as gasoline, fuel oil, propane, kerosene, natural gas, coal and wood do not have an adequate oxygen supply to burn completely. The most common sources are automobiles, and furnaces and boilers that haven't been properly maintained.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning
- Flu-like symptoms: nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, vomiting, confusion.
- In many cases, victims are aware they are not well, but become too disoriented to save themselves. Pregnant women, small children, senior citizens and people with heart or respiratory problems are particularly vulnerable to carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Have professional annual inspections and cleanings of heating systems, vents, flues and chimneys.
- Occasionally conduct your own visual inspections. Look for improper connections, rust, stains or water build up.
- Never leave a car running in a garage.
- Never use gas or charcoal grills in an enclosed area.
- Install carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home, especially near bedrooms. Alarms should meet requirements of the International Approval Services Standard. Alarms can be recognized by the blue star, AGA (American Gas Association) design on the package.
- If you suspect carbon monoxide, get fresh air and call 911.