With the extreme cold temperatures in the Midlands comes the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning as residents try to stay warm.
Carbon monoxide - a colorless, odorless, tasteless toxic gas produced when natural gas, propane, gasoline, kerosene, …
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Carbon monoxide - a colorless, odorless, tasteless toxic gas produced when natural gas, propane, gasoline, kerosene, wood or charcoal is burned - can be deadly but can also cause permanent damage to the brain and nervous system. All ages can be affected, but infants and children are especially vulnerable.
According to the Palmetto Poison Center, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can be similar to the flu or food poisoning: fatigue/sleepiness; dizziness; nausea; headache; irregular breathing; and confusion or disorientation.
Gas water heaters, gas stoves and ovens, kerosene heaters, grills, wood and gas fireplaces, portable generators and automobile engines are all sources of carbon monoxide and should not be used in enclosed or poorly ventilated spaces such as a tent, garage, basement, etc.
Besides following manufacturer's instructions for fuel-burning appliances, the center also recommends having a qualified technician check gas-burning appliances including water heaters and gas dryers annually, installing a UL-approved CO alarm on every level of the home containing sleeping quarters and posting the poison hotline number (1-800-222-1222) near phones. Call immediately for possible poisonings.
If the carbon monoxide alarm goes off, the center recommends the following:
- Check to see if any member of the household is experiencing symptoms, and if they are, leave the affected area immediately and get fresh air;
- If no one has symptoms, open windows/doors and turn off potential sources of CO; and
- Have a qualified technician inspect fuel-burning appliances to identify and correct source of leak.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention more than 400 people in the United States die each year from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning not linked to fires, more than 20,000 visit the emergency room and more than 4,000 are hospitalized.
For additional information on carbon monoxide poisoning, visit the Palmetto Poison Center's website at poison.sc.edu or the Center for Disease Control at cdc.gov/co/faqs.htm.
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