Carbon Monoxide – the silent killer

Recently, in Whitefield, an 80 year old man and a 79 year old woman were found unconscious due to carbon monoxide poisoning. On Christmas Eve, a gentleman in Knox died because of carbon monoxide poisoning.  Carbon Monoxide is invisible, odorless and colorless and deadly.  According to the Nation Fire Protection Association, “During 2006-2010, an estimated 72,000 non-fire carbon monoxide incidents were reported to U.S. fire departments each year: These incidents have been increasing over time.”

These incidents are more common between the months of November and February. Most incidents (94%) occur in residential properties, with 73% in one- or two-family homes. Carbon monoxide alarms are more common in the early evening hours, peaking around 8:00 p.m. In 2008, there were an estimated 189 carbon monoxide poisoning deaths associated with the use of a consumer product in the U.S..  While some poisonings are accidental due to failure to observe safe product operation like generators, it can also come from household appliances.

According to the Center for Disease Control, “CO is found in combustion fumes, such as those produced by cars and trucks, small gasoline engines, stoves, lanterns, burning charcoal and wood, and gas ranges and heating systems. CO from these sources can build up in enclosed or semi-enclosed spaces. People and animals in these spaces can be poisoned by breathing it.”

How CO enters red blood cell

Ways to prevent Carbon Monoxide poisoning:

  • Carbon Monoxide detectors should be placed on each level and outside all sleeping areas.
  • Have your appliances inspected annually by a certified professional. 
  • Warm up your cars outside of your garage.

Sources: http://www.cdc.gov/co/faqs.htm and www.nfpa.org/CO

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