By Chief Wade Watkins
After 20-plus years working as a firefighter, I have developed a sense of trepidation when dealing with carbon monoxide. I have experienced some close calls where community members were minutes away from passing away following exposure. Many times, carbon monoxide poisoning presents itself with just a feeling of illness. Knowing how to identify a hazardous situation is key to keeping you, your family and the community safe. Below is some key information from the CDC are encourage you to become familiar with on how to stay safe from carbon monoxide poisoning.
What is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide, or CO, is an odorless, colorless gas that can kill you.
Where is CO found?
CO is found in fumes produced any time you burn fuel in cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges or furnaces. CO can build up indoors and poison people and animals who breathe it.
What are the symptoms of CO poisoning?
The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. CO symptoms are often described as “flu-like.” If you breathe in a lot of CO, it can make you pass out or kill you. People who are sleeping or drunk can die from CO poisoning before they experience symptoms.
Who is at risk from CO poisoning?
Everyone is at risk for CO poisoning. Infants, the elderly, people with chronic heart disease, anemia or breathing problems are more likely to get sick from CO. Each year, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning not linked to fires, more than 100,000 visit the emergency room and more than 14,000 are hospitalized.
How can I prevent CO poisoning in my home?
Education is key to recognizing the lookout situations. Please visit https://www.cdc.gov/co/faqs.htm for more information on improving your situational awareness to this hazard.