Poison Expert Calls Carbon Monoxide Silent Killer

Poison Expert Calls Carbon Monoxide Silent Killer

A spokesperson for Wyoming's regional poison center, which is based in Nebraska, says carbon monoxide is a silent killer, so beware.

News Director Leslie Stratmoen has the report.


Twenty-five states have statutes that require carbon monoxide detectors in certain residential buildings, according to an expert, but Wyoming is not one of them. And since carbon monoxide poisoning kills 500 people nationwide, each year, and sends another 15,000 to emergency rooms, Joan McVoy from the state’s poison control center has issued a warning about the gas.

She says carbon monoxide is difficult to detect because the gas has no color, taste or smell and is produced when fuel burns incompletely. Even the symptoms like headache, dizziness and nausea, are difficult to read, she said, because they can mimic other conditions.

So, watch for that, she said, along with sleepiness, blurred vision, shortness of breath and convulsions. The quick remedy, whenever possible, she said, is to rush the victim to fresh air, immediately, then to a doctor or hospital.

She said the major causes of the poisoning come from using damaged heating equipment or unvented space heaters, driving a car without ventilation, or cooking inside on a charcoal grill.

As precautions, then, she said: inspect all fuel-burning equipment, yearly; vent fuel-burning heaters to the outside; never use a gas range or oven for heating a room or a charcoal grill indoors; and don't leave a car running in an attached garage, even if the garage door's open.

Also, she said, install carbon monoxide alarms in every level of your home, and make sure they're operating correctly.

And make sure, she went on to say, to check the mufflers and tailpipes of vehicles on a regular basis.

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