A Silent Killer: Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning

Published: June 6th, 2012

Category: Student Health Care Center Blog

Carbon Monoxide DetectorSummer months bring heavy rain, tropical storms, and hurricanes that can all lead to power outages. If you use alternative sources of energy during these power outages such as a generator then you are at risk for carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. You’re not alone, every year around 450 people die in the US from CO poisoning.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is found in the fumes produced from generators, gas powered stoves and lanterns, by burning charcoal and wood, and motor vehicle exhaust. These items should not be used in enclosed or semi-enclosed spaces (such as letting a car motor run in an enclosed garage) because the CO builds up and breathing these fumes can be deadly. Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning is dangerous because you can’t see, smell, or hear it; BUT it is preventable!

The Most Common Symptoms of CO Poisoning:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Chest Pain
  • Confusion
  • People who are sleeping or have been drinking can die from CO poisoning before experiencing symptoms!

CO Poisoning Prevention Tips:

  • Never use a gas range or oven to heat a home.
  • Never leave the motor running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.
  • Never run a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine inside a basement, garage, or other enclosed structure even if the doors or windows are open, unless the equipment is professionally installed and vented.
  • Never run a motor vehicle, generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine less than 20 feet from an open window/door where exhaust can vent into an enclosed area.
  • Never use a charcoal grill, lantern, or portable camping stove inside a home, tent or camper.
  • If CO poisoning is suspected, consult a health care professional right away!