February 15, 2005
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Every year over 20,000 people are poisoned by carbon monoxide. This is an odorless, tasteless, invisible gas that is highly lethal. It is produced by burning any type of fossil fuel. We often associate carbon monoxide poisonings with winter however, they can occur anytime of year (you cook and use a hot water heater in the summer). The only way to avoid an accidental poisoning is to have a CO detector in your home that detects low levels. These can be purchase at hardware stores, home improvement stores, and on-line. Several tips to keep in mind:
check the flame you are using or the pilot flame- Blue is good, orange is trouble
check the flue, grills, and appliances for adequate ventilation
Cigarette smoke increases CO levels in the house
Leaving a car running in an attached garage also increases CO levels.
The symptoms of CO poisoning can be flu-like: fatigue, muscle aches, upset stomach, headache, dizziness. First, go outside and seek fresh air. If you feel much better after 20 minutes then do not go back into your house until the CO levels are checked.