emergency2Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is often called The Silent Killer, and for good reason. It is completely odorless, and you cannot see it floating in the air, mixing with your oxygen. You don’t feel it as you breathe it into your body. More than 500 Americans die every year from unintentional CO poisoning while more than 2,000 choose it as their preferred suicide method.

Doctors have difficulty diagnosing CO poisoning because the symptoms are very similar to other illnesses. Every man, woman, child, and pet is at risk for CO poisoning. Some people are more susceptible to the effects of it – unborn babies, infants, people who suffer from chronic heart disease, anemia, or respiratory problems – in particular. Today I’m going to demonstrate how education is the key to avoiding CO poisoning.

Here are six tips for avoiding CO poisoning:

  • Yearly Chimney Inspection
  • Know the Symptoms (below) and How to Get Help
  • Open the Damper Before Using the Fireplace
  • Do Not Use These Indoors

o   Portable flameless chemical heaters

o   Charcoal grill or gas grill

o   Portable gas camp stove

o   Gas powered generator or other fuel powered equipment

  • Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector
  • Never Burn without Ventilation

Avoid CO Poisoning in Your Vehicle

  • Have your vehicle’s exhaust checked every year.
  • Repair exhaust leaks immediately.
  • Never run your vehicle in a closed garage.

Symptoms of CO Poisoning

CO poisoning prevents oxygen from entering your body when you breathe. Your red blood cells pick up carbon monoxide more quickly than they pick up oxygen, so if CO is present, your body will use it instead of oxygen. As I said earlier, you don’t see carbon monoxide in the air and you can’t smell it. Symptoms include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, sleepiness, and confusion – flu like symptoms.

What to Do

If you suspect CO poisoning, step outside immediately and breathe fresh air. Call 911 immediately and go to the emergency room to be thoroughly checked out to make sure there is no lingering damage.

Schedule a Chimney Cleaning and Inspection

Call me any time to schedule a chimney cleaning and inspection. Debris blocking the chimney can cause CO buildup in your home. Make sure to install CO detectors in your home and change the batteries once per year. Most people use a smoke detector that is also a CO detector and change the batteries on the same date each year so they don’t forget. Schedule your appointment with me for that same date when possible so everything is taken care of at once.