Carbon Monoxide: The Silent Killer

Nationwide, carbon monoxide poisoning claims 430 lives and sends nearly 50,000 people to hospitals every year. Known as the “silent killer,” Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that results from the incomplete combustion of fuel. It can be emitted from gas ranges, fireplaces, portable generators, furnaces, etc.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Symptoms of CO poisoning include headaches and dizziness, physical weakness, and diminished mental capacity. Individuals can also experience nausea, vomiting, and chest pains. Individuals who experience these systems should exit the home or apartment prior to contacting help as excessive CO exposure can cause the individual to lose consciousness. Prolonged exposure can lead to permanent brain damage or loss of life.

Protecting Against Poisoning

Carbon Monoxide detectors can help reduce the possibility of CO poisoning. Many smoke detectors will not protect against toxic exposure. In fact, few smoke detectors are equipped with the required sensors. Modern CO detectors can be connected to home automation and monitoring systems which can alert homeowners of the presence of CO buildup even while they are away from the residence.

As with smoke detectors and other alarms, the battery in the system should be regularly changed and the system should be tested at regular intervals. Individuals can prevent CO poisoning by taking active measures to keep fumes from building up within the home. Effective measures include:

  • Never leaving an automobile running while garage doors are closed.
  • Opening windows/doors when generators or gasoline powered equipment are operating.
  • Regularly inspecting gas lines and furnaces for signs of leaks or incomplete combustion.
  • Never operating hibachi grills, gas lanterns, or camp stoves within the home.
  • Ensuring that air vents are functioning properly and are not blocked by debris or furniture.

Short & Long-Term Effects of CO Poisoning

The short-term effects of CO poisoning typically wear off soon after the exposure. Fresh air and immediate treatment by medical personnel can often alleviate symptoms. However, the long-term effects are not as well known. The deprivation of oxygen caused by CO poisoning may lead to memory loss and permanent neurological damage that may lead to the development of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, etc. A personal injury lawyer in Illinois can help victims of CO poisoning trace their injuries and ailments to a CO exposure caused by malfunctioning equipment, negligence, etc.