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Keep your family safe from carbon monoxide poisoning

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During winter, we work to keep the cold air out and the warm air in. But keeping fresh air out may cause deadly indoor air quality hazards.

Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is a real threat that escalates in fall and carries through the winter as temperatures drop, and we become more dependent on heating systems. Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas caused by the incomplete combustion of fuels such as natural gas, fuel oil and gasoline.

Look for the following signs of carbon monoxide:

  • Sooting at the appliance or vents
  • Sharp, bitter odor of gas
  • Wavering yellow gas flame

One of the best ways to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning is by installing a carbon monoxide detector.

Warning signs of CO poisoning include:

  • Disorientation or dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches or blurry vision
  • Muscle weakness
  • Tightness of the chest
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Heart palpitations

Don’t ignore the symptoms. You could lose consciousness and even die. If you suspect someone has been overcome by carbon monoxide:

  • Remove the person and yourself from the area
  • Call 911 and provide whatever basic life support is necessary

Author: Heong Png, MD

Dr Png is the Medical Director for Emergency Services at Ministry Saint Clare’s Hospital in Weston.

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