Center Warns of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

November 1, 2005

Contact: Angela Heisel, 272-3651


As New Mexicans use their heaters this fall and winter season the numbers of unintentional deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning begins to rise. Everyone is at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning especially pregnant women, infants, children, seniors and people with heart and breathing problems. 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 include automobile exhaust, natural gas furnaces (or heaters) kerosene heaters, space heaters, charcoal grills, clogged chimneys, gas water heaters, stoves, ovens, and clothes dryers. Dangerous levels of carbon monoxide are produced when automobiles, appliances and equipment are not working properly or if they are used in the wrong way.

Carbon monoxide is called the silent killer because you cannot see it, taste it or smell it. Breathing carbon monoxide prevents the blood from delivering oxygen to the brain and heart. It can cause brain damage or kill a person in a matter of minutes. "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. Jess Benson, Director of the New Mexico Poison Center . "To help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, buy a carbon monoxide detector for your home that will sound an alarm when it detects carbon monoxide in the air. Carbon monoxide detectors should be placed close to every sleeping area in your home and in your garage," Benson said. 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 tips to help prevent your family from
carbon monoxide poisoning:

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

· 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.

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

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

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

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

· Install an Underwriters Laboratories (UL)-approved carbon monoxide detector in every sleeping area and on each level of the home. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and keep the instructions in a safe place for future reference.

· 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: Angela Heisel, 272-3322

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