These Are The Symptoms Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

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Carbon monoxide is known as a “silent killer” because it’s colorless, odorless and you can’t see it. When the poisonous gas is inhaled, it reduces the amount of oxygen blood can carry to vital organs — including the heart and brain — which can have serious health implications and may even cause death.

Every year, 430 people in the United States die from carbon monoxide poisoning and an additional 50,000 people visit emergency rooms after being exposed to it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, carbon monoxide poisoning is preventable, and recent events in the news have underscored the importance of having carbon monoxide detectors at home.

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Combustion fumes coming out of car exhaust pipe

A Wichita mother of seven recently told local news station KSNW that the carbon monoxide detector in her family’s home is responsible for saving her life, and the lives of her children and husband. She went on to urge other families to make sure they have detectors in their own homes.

According to the news station, a car was idling outside and, despite the garage door being open, exhaust fumes traveled through a vent and into the basement. The carbon monoxide detector went off. Members of the family also began experiencing vomiting, chest pains and dizziness and were taken to the hospital for treatment.

In a more tragic instance, ABC News reports that a family of four was found dead in Ohio earlier this month and investigators discovered elevated levels of carbon monoxide in the home.

Here’s what you need to know about carbon monoxide poisoning so you can keep your family safe.

Symptoms Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

It’s important to know that people who have been drinking alcohol or who are asleep may die from carbon monoxide poisoning before experiencing any symptoms whatsoever. Otherwise, here are the common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, according to the CDC:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
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Close-up Of Electrician Hands Removing Battery From Smoke Detector

How To Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

These CDC-approved tips will help you prevent potential carbon monoxide poisoning and keep your family safe.

  • First things first, it’s important to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. Safety experts recommend installing a carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home and in sleeping areas. You should change the batteries in the detector every six months, according to the CDC.
  • Have a qualified technician service your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil or coal burning appliances every year.
  • Don’t use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement or garage or near a window.
  • Don’t run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open.
  • Don’t burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t vented.
  • Don’t heat your house with a gas oven.
  • Don’t use a generator, pressure washer or any gasoline-powered engine less than 20 feet from any window, door or vent.

A final note: If you believe you’re experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, call 911 or a medical professional immediately.

About the Author

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Brittany Anas

Hi, I'm Brittany Anas (pronounced like the spice, anise ... see, that wasn't too embarrassing to say, now was it?) My professional writing career started when I was in elementary school and my grandma paid me $1 for each story I wrote for her. I'm a former newspaper reporter, with more than a decade of experience Hula-hooping at planning meetings and covering just about every beat from higher-education to crime to science for the Boulder Daily Camera and The Denver Post. Now, I'm a freelance writer, specializing in travel, health, food and adventure. I've contributed to publications including Men's Journal, Forbes, Women's Health, American Way, TripSavvy, Eat This, Not That!, Apartment Therapy, Denver Life Magazine, 5280, Livability, The Denver Post, Simplemost, USA Today Travel Tips, Make it Better, AAA publications, Reader's Digest, Discover Life and more. Learn More.