Every year in the U.S., carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning sends about 50,000 people to emergency rooms and kills more than 430 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
While CO poisoning can happen any time of year, many of these incidents occur during the wintertime when people are using appliances and heating sources indoors. In fact, the CDC reports that January is the month when most CO poisoning incidents occur, followed by December (and that, in contrast, July and August see the fewest CO poisonings).
Consequently, CO is commonly referred to as the “silent winter killer.” To protect you and your family from CO poisoning, the following presents a look at the dangers and causes of CO poisoning, along with tips for preventing this potentially deadly condition.
Dangers of Carbon Monoxide: How CO Poisoning Occurs
Invisible, odorless and tasteless, carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that is a product of combustion. This means that CO is generally produced as gas, propane and/or other fuels are burned. While vehicles generate carbon monoxide, so can any appliance or device that burns fuel.
When CO is generated in enclosed, poorly ventilated spaces, it accumulates and can be inhaled, causing dangerous levels of CO to build up in the bloodstream. CO inhibits the blood from absorbing oxygen, which can prevent the delivery of oxygen to the brain and vital organs. This can result in cognitive impairments, asphyxiation, organ failure and, if not treated in time, death.
Potential Sources of CO Poisoning: Defective Products
The appliances and devices in many homes can be a source of CO, particularly if these fuel-burning items are defective, faulty or malfunctioning. Examples can include defective:
- Portable heaters
- Furnaces, fireplaces and/or HVAC systems
- Power tools
- CO detectors.
How to Prevent CO Poisoning: 7 Important Tips
- Get your HVAC system serviced at least once a year, preferably before the winter season.
- Clean your chimney and fireplace at least once a year to ensure the proper clearances. Keep the fireplace damper open when using the fireplace.
- Never run generators, charcoal/portable grills or pressure washers more than 20 feet away from a ventilation source (like an open window or door).
- Do not use gas stoves to heat your home.
- Do not start vehicles in an enclosed garage when warming up the engine.
- Use battery-powered CO detectors, and check the batteries at least twice a year (replacing them as needed). The CDC recommends pairing these battery checks with the biannual time changes (so you check the CO detector batteries when you are changing your clocks in spring and fall).
- Know the signs of CO poisoning, and seek immediate medical attention if you or a loved one starts displaying these symptoms.
Contact a Middlesex County Personal Injury Lawyer at Mayo Law, P.A
If you or someone you love has been harmed by any defective, dangerous or toxic product, you can turn to a Middlesex County personal injury lawyer at Mayo Law, P.A. for essential answers about your options for financial recovery and justice.
Call us at (732) 607-4119 or toll free at (888) MAYO-LAW. You can also email our firm by clicking the “Free Legal Help Now” button at the top of this page. Initial consultations are free, and we do not charge any legal fees until or unless compensation is secured.