Carbon Monoxide Poisoning – Winter’s Silent Killer

Carbon monoxide is often called a silent killer, and for good reason – it’s colorless, odorless, and tasteless. It’s also poisonous and claims hundreds of lives each year.

Some of our appliances use carbon monoxide every day. It’s given off by gas furnaces, charcoal grills, propane heaters, and portable generators. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 15,000 Americans visit emergency rooms with symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning each year. An additional 439 lose their lives in non-fire carbon monoxide related incidents.

Many people are exposed to this type of danger, and the numbers are likely underrepresented. Only 13 states in the United States have statutes on the books that require doctors to report carbon monoxide poisoning. Since the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can be confused with other diseases and autopsies don’t generally test for it, it’s possible that carbon monoxide poisoning leads to even more devastation each year.

What Are the Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

Another reason carbon monoxide poisoning might go unnoticed is because the symptoms mimic other illnesses. The most commonly reported symptoms are headache, nausea, and feeling lightheaded and dizzy.

The symptoms of CO poisoning are often mistaken for the flu. Depending on the concentration of the gas in the area, you may also experience muscle weakness, loss of muscle control, mental confusion, changes in heart rate, and excessive sleepiness.

Leave your house and consult a doctor immediately if you experience any of these telltale signs of carbon monoxide poisoning:

Carbon monoxide poisoning is most likely to affect the elderly and is more likely to occur in men than women. The latter is likely because men spend more time working with fuel-burning appliances and tools.

Death from carbon monoxide poisoning is most likely to occur in the winter months – the highest rates of deaths statistically fall in January and December. Conversely, the months of July and August have the lowest amount of carbon monoxide-related death.

Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Pittsburgh

Thankfully, there are a few simple ways you can drastically reduce your risk of experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning:

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious medical condition that can lead to flu-like symptoms and even death. However, it’s preventable by following some simple steps. By completing routine safety checks and installing and maintaining your carbon monoxide detectors, you can effectively protect your loved ones from carbon monoxide this winter. If you have further questions about carbon monoxide poisoning, contact your local health department for details. The Pittsburgh personal injury attorneys at Hal Waldman & Associates are available to answer any questions if you have experience complications from carbon monoxide poisoning.