Carbon Monoxide Poisoning is Entirely Preventable.
Guest blogger: IWK Regional Poison Centre
This past weekend’s time change is a good reminder to check the batteries in your smoke detectors and your carbon monoxide detectors. The IWK Regional Poison Centre would like to remind the public about the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning as the cold weather is approaching.
Consider this fact: In the first few months of 2017, the IWK Regional Poison Centre had more calls related to CO than the entire 2016 year, and many of these were life threatening carbon monoxide calls.
Why is carbon monoxide so dangerous?
- You can’t see it, smell it, or taste it and it is not an irritating gas.
- You can have carbon monoxide poisoning without a visible house fire.
- Initial symptoms may be mild and resemble the flu or food poisoning: headache, dizziness, blurred vision, nausea and vomiting.
- As symptoms become more severe, the victim may be very confused, sleepy, or unconscious; they may also have a severe headache and have breathing problems. These symptoms make seeking help very difficult and the victim may eventually stop breathing or suffer heart attack or even death.
What are the sources of carbon monoxide?
- House fires
- Fuel-burning appliances not working properly (e.g. propane)
- Charcoal burning barbeques used indoors
- Heating sources like: furnaces, water heaters/boilers, wood stoves
- Exhaust from machinery used indoors or poorly ventilated area or near: pressure washer, gasoline-powered engines, (cars, ATV’s, snow blowers, tractors)
- Generators used indoors or poorly ventilated areas such as in a garage
- Paint strippers containing methylene chloride used indoors
How can you prevent carbon monoxide poisoning?
- Know the sources of carbon monoxide.
- Install a properly working carbon monoxide detector in addition to smoke detector.
- Ensure that your appliances, wood stove, heating sources are working properly and maintained.
- Never use a generator or run machinery indoors, even if the garage door is open.
What should you do if you think you have been exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning?
- Get everyone (including pets) out of the house as quickly as possible.
- Call 911.