Carbon Monoxide Poisoning The Silent Killer: Understanding the Danger to You and Your Family


      As New Mexicans turn on their heaters with the onset of Autumn and the cooler weather that it brings, the numbers of unintentional deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning begins to rise.  Everyone is at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning especially infants and children because they have elevated breathing rates and the gas accumulates in their bodies faster than in adults. It is important to take preventive steps to protect your family from this silent killer.

     Carbon Monoxide comes from burning fossil fuels like gasoline, kerosene, methane, propane, oil, coal and wood.  Common sources of carbon monoxide in the home include automobiles, kerosene heaters, space heaters, charcoal grills, clogged chimneys and gas water heaters, stoves, ovens, and dryers.

Carbon Monoxide (C0) is called the silent killer because you cannot see it, taste it or smell it.   Carbon monoxide cuts off oxygen to the brain and heart that can cause brain damage or death. "Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may include tightness across the forehead, headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, a rapid heart beat and dimness of vision," said Dr. Benson, director of the New Mexico Poison Center.   

"To help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, buy CO detectors and place them in every sleeping area of the home," said Benson.  "Because carbon monoxide poisoning is a silent killer, a detector could mean the difference between life and death."

If you think someone has been exposed to carbon monoxide, don't ignore symptoms.  Get the person to fresh air and call the New Mexico Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 for emergency treatment information.

The New Mexico Poison Center offers these prevention tips to help prevent your family from carbon monoxide poisoning:

·         Have all fuel-burning household appliances inspected each year, especially before winter arrives.

·         Never use a gas oven to heat your home, even for a short time.

·         Never use a charcoal grill indoors even in a fireplace.

·         Never warm-up the car or leave the engine running in the garage even if the door is open. 

·         Never leave your car engine running when is parked or covered in snow.

·         When the fireplace is in use, open the flue to make sure it is safely vented.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

·         Install a Underwriters Laboratories (UL)-approved carbon monoxide detector in every sleeping area and on each level of the home.

·         If the CO alarm goes off, leave the home immediately and call the Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 for emergency treatment information.

·         If your carbon monoxide detector is battery operated, be sure to test them regularly according to the manufacture's instructions.

The New Mexico Poison Center is available for poisoning emergencies, questions about poisons, poison prevention information, 24 hours a day, toll free at 1-800-222-1222.  The New Mexico Poison Center is a service of the New Mexico College of Pharmacy and the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center.

Contact: Cindy Foster, 272-3322

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