Printer Friendly

CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING: SILENT KILLER IS PARTICULAR WINTER HAZARD

CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING: SILENT KILLER IS PARTICULAR WINTER HAZARD
 SEATTLE, Dec. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- In the aftermath of the deaths of three children in September and with cold weather upon us, Children's Hospital and Medical Center and the Seattle Poison Center urge Washington residents to be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.
 Carbon monoxide is the colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that is formed in the incomplete burning of any carbon-containing fuel, such as wood, charcoal, kerosene, butane and gasoline. The danger of carbon monoxide poisoning lurks in cars and trucks, in the home and even in recreational outings and activities.
 "It's extremely important that people take precautions and know the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning because poisoning can happen to anybody," said Dr. Bill Clarke, a pediatrician and anesthesiologist at Children's Hospital. "You can't smell it, you can't see it. It's that insidious."
 "The number one cause of accidental death due to poisoning is carbon monoxide poisoning," said Dr. William Robertson, medical director of the Seattle Poison Center.
 Compounding the danger is that symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are very nonspecific, said Clarke, who treats critically ill children in the hospital's pediatric intensive care unit. "Most of the time people don't realize they are getting carbon monoxide poisoning," he said.
 Symptoms of mild poisoning include headache, lethargy, dizziness, sleepiness, weakness and hearing and visual disturbances -- symptoms similar to having the flu. In severe cases, victims may experience nausea and vomiting, then convulsions and/or unconsciousness. Death will follow severe exposure without prompt medical treatment.
 Although carbon monoxide poisoning can occur at any time, it is particularly dangerous during the cold-weather months because people inside tightly sealed homes, cars with the windows rolled up and similar situations are more likely to be exposed to the gas if it's leaking from combustion sources, said Robertson.
 In Washington state last year, unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning claimed the lives of five persons, three from motor vehicle exhaust and two from incomplete combustion of propane and butane gas, according to the State Center for Health Statistics.
 Treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning is relatively simple -- oxygen by mask, or in severe cases, by hyperbaric chamber which administers pressurized oxygen -- however, the damage is done by the time stricken people receive treatment, said Clarke. Brain damage can result because carbon monoxide interrupts the body's ability to use oxygen. In severe cases, victims are asphyxiated and the heart stops.
 Prevention is key to reducing poisoning risk. Here are some hazards to watch for and safety tips to follow.
 In The Car or On The Road:
 - Make it part of your regular vehicle maintenance to have the exhaust system checked for leaks. Carbon monoxide will seep into a vehicle's interior whether or not the vehicle is moving. (More children are poisoned this way than other forms of carbon monoxide exposure.)
 - Never sit inside the car with the engine running and the heater on for a prolonged time as a way to warm yourself.
 - Never warm up the car inside a closed garage. If the garage is attached to the house, check to make sure no gases are seeping into the house.
 - It's not advisable to let passengers ride inside pickup truck camper shells or canopies because they don't offer the same protection from fumes as vehicle interiors. Rather than provide ventilation, an open camper or canopy window or door can allow carbon monoxide to be sucked inside.
 Clarke treated two of the four girls from Pharr, Texas, who were asphyxiated last September when carbon monoxide seeped into the camper shell in which they were sleeping. One girl died at the scene, one died at a local hospital, one died later at Children's and a fourth survived after several days at Children's.
 - A similar problem exists if you leave a car hatchback or stationwagon tailgate open when driving. Gases will be swept into the car rather than away from it.
 In The Home:
 - The majority of carbon monoxide poisonings occur in the home, usually linked to faulty heating equipment. Now's the time to have gas and oil furnaces checked for leaks or problems with ventilation and exhaust flue systems.
 If your furnace smells, something's wrong with it. "That's an emergency and you need to deal with it right away," said Clarke.
 - Catalytic heaters such as kerosene and butane space heaters are popular because the heaters and fuel are cheap. They also can be deadly if improperly


used. Kerosene and butane heaters must be used with proper ventilation or carbon monoxide gas will build up inside the home. Leave a window open an inch when using heaters or place the heater inside the fireplace so gases can escape up the chimney. Make sure the flue is open.
 + Turn off unvented catalytic heaters at night.
 + Do not use a gas range or oven to heat a room.
 + Do not use a charcoal grill or hibachi to cook with inside,
 unless it is in a well-ventilated fireplace. Never use
 these to heat a home. Charcoal in particular emits large
 amounts of carbon monoxide.
 Cold-Weather Recreation:
 - Don't use catalytic heaters or burn charcoal inside campers and tents to cook or heat with.
 - Make sure heating and cooking systems in recreational vehicles are working properly.
 - Don't move your rained-out or too-cold barbecue to the garage to keep dry and warmer. Even with the door open, ventilation may not be adequate to clear the air of carbon monoxide.
 If you suspect someone has been poisoned or overcome by carbon monoxide, call 911 for emergency aid. If you have questions about carbon monoxide poisoning, call your local poison control center.
 -0- 12/2/91
 /CONTACT: Dean Forbes of Children's Hospital and Medical Center, 206-368-4817/ CO: Children's Hospital and Medical Center ST: Washington IN: HEA SU:


LM-SC -- SE001 -- 8371 12/02/91 12:52 EST
COPYRIGHT 1991 PR Newswire Association LLC
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Dec 2, 1991
Words:969
Previous Article:COMMUNISPOND, INC. OFFERS TIPS ON ASKING FOR A RAISE
Next Article:MICRO TECHNOLOGY ACQUIRES SF2 CORP., FIRST COMPANY TO DELIVER RAID 5 TECHNOLOGY, AND ENTERS FAULT TOLERANT DISK ARRAY MARKET
Topics:


Related Articles
A SOLUTION TO THE SILENT KILLER
PROTECT YOURSELF FROM DEADLY CARBON MONOXIDE
PROTECT YOURSELF FROM DEADLY CARBON MONOXIDE
British Gas host safety exhibition.
When Temperatures Drop, Home Injuries Rise; Home Safety Council Identifies Three Primary Hazards to Watch for This Winter.
Kidde Donates 700 New Carbon Monoxide Alarms to Connecticut State Fire Marshal's Office.
Kidde Donates 700 New Carbon Monoxide Alarms to Connecticut State Fire Marshal's Office; Additional 100 alarms to go to City of West Haven.
'We must no longer stay silent about this silent killer'.
Winter warning on gas.
Protect Your Family From 'The Silent Killer' This Winter.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters