Officials Warn Texans About Carbon Monoxide Poisoning After People Die Using Risky Heat Sources

What Is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning? Texans Are Dying From the Gas After Using Risky Heat Sources

2/20/2021 8:29:00 AM

What Is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning? Texans Are Dying From the Gas After Using Risky Heat Sources

Those without power are desperately trying to stay warm—but using a car or grill is incredibly dangerous.

ConfusionIf you breathe in too much carbon monoxide, it can cause you to pass out and even die, the CDC says, noting that people who are sleeping or drunk can die from carbon monoxide poisoning before they even develop symptoms.The big problem with these symptoms is that they can easily be written off as being caused by something else, says

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, a thoracic surgeon at the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif. “These are not symptoms that most people would think are due to carbon monoxide poisoning,” he says.Why can carbon monoxide poisoning be deadly?

Every year, more than 20,000 Americans visit the ER for carbon monoxide poisoning and 400 die from it, per theCDC. Carbon monoxide actually replaces oxygen in your red blood cells, explains Dr. Onugha. “As a result, you’re not able to take in oxygen,” he says.

When you can’t take in enough oxygen, your organs are affected and they “shut down,” says, an assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Michigan State University. It’s “fairly unlikely” that most people will notice symptoms as they’re being poisoned, Alan says, allowing the poisoning to progress unchecked.

How is carbon monoxide poisoning treated?It depends on the severity of the situation. If it’s caught early enough, a person will be given supplemental oxygen, Alan says. In more critical cases, oxygen therapy with a hyperbaric chamber will be used, if it’s available. “We want to use high flow oxygen,” to try and “ overload the carbon monoxide molecules,” Dr. Onugha says.

❗If you suspect that you or a loved one has carbon monoxide poisoning, call 911 immediately and try to get outdoors to breathe in fresh air.How to prevent carbon monoxide poisoningThe CDC hasvery specific instructionson what to do to lower the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, including:

Install a battery-operated or battery back-up carbon monoxide detector in your home. This will alert you when levels get too high.Have your heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.

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Do not use portable flameless chemical heaters indoors.Have your refrigerator serviced if you smell an odor leaking from it (as this could mean it’s leaking carbon monoxide).When you buy gas equipment, buy only equipment carrying the seal of a national testing agency, such as Underwriters’ Laboratories.

Make sure your gas appliances are vented properly.Have your chimney checked or cleaned every year.Never patch a vent pipe with tape, gum, or something else.Never use a gas range or oven for heating.Never burn charcoal indoors.Never use a portable gas camp stove indoors.

Never use a generator inside your home.Have a mechanic check your vehicle exhaust every year.Never run your vehicle inside a garage that is attached to a house, even with the garage door open. Read more: Prevention Magazine »

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