Carbon Monoxide Danger Rises as Temperatures Drop

September 4, 2013

Originally published on Oct. 31, 2011

Every year, when temperatures drop, keeping warm can turn deadly. One month into fall and there are already reports of two deaths in Georgia from apparent exposure to carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless gas. According to news reports, a generator was placed too close to the home.

The American Lung Association reports that approximately 450 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning, and more than 50,000 people visit emergency rooms in the United States.

Carbon monoxide can come from a number of sources: kerosene space heaters, wood-burning stoves, camping stoves, propane heaters and stoves, gas ranges and heating systems, charcoal grills, and gas or diesel powered generators.

“It is important to know the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning,” says J. Patrick O'Neal, MD, Director of the Division of Health Protection with the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH). “While the use of carbon monoxide detectors has increased, many homes still do not have these detectors.”

Signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, nausea, diarrhea and confusion and may vary from person to person. In some cases symptoms may resemble those of influenza.

“When generators are used, they should always be placed outside and away from windows, garages and doors,” Dr. O’Neal said.

Carbon monoxide detectors (battery operated and electrical units) are available at several retail outlets in Georgia and can be purchased for as little as $15.

Remember, carbon monoxide poisoning is serious. Be aware, take precautions, install a carbon monoxide alarm and recognize the signs and symptoms. Call 911 immediately if you suspect exposure.

For more information on carbon monoxide and how you can protect yourself, your family and friends, visit the American Lung Association or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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