Carbon Monoxide Fatalities Are Increasing in America - medtigo



Carbon Monoxide Fatalities Are Increasing in America

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According to a report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, carbon monoxide-related deaths are on the rise, primarily due to portable generators and home heating systems.  

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gas produced by fuel-burning appliances such as engines, furnaces, and grills. The gas has no odor or smell, making it difficult to detect if it accumulates in an enclosed space.  

CO exposure can result in instantaneous death. People exposed to high levels of CO may experience headaches, nausea, vertigo, and confusion. However, if a person is asleep or under the influence of alcohol, it is possible for them to pass away before experiencing any symptoms.  

According to a new report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the number of CO-related deaths in the U.S. has reached its highest level since 1999. Due to this alarming trend, the CPSC urges consumers to take safety precautions to prevent CO poisoning, which can be fatal.  

The report indicates that 250 people died in 2019 as a result of CO poisoning caused by a product, more than any other year. In addition, 47% of these fatalities were associated with engine-powered tools, such as portable generators, and 28% with heating systems.  

According to the CPSC, 75% of CO-related deaths occurred at home. Nonetheless, some occurred in structures such as detached garages, camper trailers, sheds, tents, and temporary shelters. Since 2009, portable generators have been associated with an estimated 765 non-fire CO poisoning deaths, accounting for 40% of all CO-related consumer product deaths.  

Although the majority of CO poisonings occur during the winter, they can occur at any time of year. People who use gas generators during summer storm-related power outages are also at risk. 

To avoid CO poisoning, the CPSC recommends the following: 

  • Install and maintain CO detectors on each level of the dwelling and outside each bedroom. If the detectors are hardwired into the home’s electrical system, a battery backup should be installed in case the power goes out. 
  • Never operate a portable generator inside the house, garage, basement, or shed. Instead, keep generators running outside, at least 20 feet away from the house, with the exhaust directed away from any structures. The CPSC notes that opening doors and windows will not prevent the buildup of deadly CO levels. 
  • Select a generator with an automatic shut-off feature that turns the unit off when high CO levels are detected. 
  • Ensure that heating systems are inspected, cleaned, and maintained properly. These include boilers, furnaces, fireplaces, wood stoves, water heaters, and chimneys. 
  • Always check the exterior exhaust vents to ensure that snow or other debris is not blocking them. 

Still, even with safety precautions in place, a person experiencing the symptoms of CO poisoning should immediately move to fresh air and call 911. 


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