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Carbon monoxideCarbon Monoxide poisoning is more serious and more common than most realize. Nearly 400 Americans die each year from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning is common but not talked about until it becomes one of the 400 deaths a year.

The tricky thing about Carbon Monoxide is that it’s a colorless, odorless gas that’s everywhere. Normally, Carbon Monoxide production isn’t harmful because it’s diluted as it mixes with our air. But when it’s trapped in a confined space, it can quickly become deadly. It is like the flu, only no fever!

That’s why it’s important to know the signs of CO poisoning.

Watch out for these signs of Carbon Monoxide poisoning

  • Dizziness
  • Dull headaches
  • Weakness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of consciousness

What is CO poisoning?

Carbon monoxide replaces oxygen in the bloodstream and starves organs of the oxygen they need.

Pregnant women need to be especially careful because fetuses are particularly vulnerable to Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Children, who tend to take more and bigger breaths can also be particularly susceptible.

What are the dangers of CO poisoning?

While people die from Carbon Monoxide poisoning every year, many more are injured by prolonged exposure to the poisonous gas. It can cause serious brain damage and heart disease.

Beyond that, people who suffer prolonged exposure to CO and lose consciousness often lay on their limbs long enough to cut blood flow from an arm or hand long enough to require amputation if they are able to be resuscitated.

What to do if you suspect CO Poisoning

If you find that you frequently get dull headaches or become dizzy in a certain environment, see if the space has a Carbon Monoxide detector and make sure it’s functioning. Install one if you don’t have one.

Do not go to sleep in that environment without testing it for CO first.

Call the local fire department and request that they send someone to test for CO if you don’t have the means to purchase a detector.

If you experience more severe symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning, don’t worry about testing for it. Get out of the home or building into fresh air immediately and call 911.

How to prevent CO poisoning

Make sure you have functioning Carbon Monoxide detectors in your home. Colorado law requires detectors to be installed within three feet of every sleeping area.

Other than having detectors, make sure your gas appliances are in good working condition and that anything that emits heat and smoke (such a wood-burning fireplace), is properly ventilated. Don’t bring grills indoors.

If you worry about Carbon Monoxide build up in your home, contact the Energy Resource Center. We are dedicated to helping families, whether they can afford it or not, make their homes safe and comfortable.

We provide free energy efficiency and safety upgrades for income-qualified homeowners and renters in the Pikes Peak Region, San Luis Valley and the Denver metro area.

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