It seems every year when the cold weather strikes, we hear about another tragedy involving an individual or family who was killed due to carbon monoxide poisoning when their furnace malfunctioned or was improperly vented.
Thankfully, there are many very basic preventative measures that can be employed to drastically reduce this situation from occurring or identify danger at its onset (carbon monoxide detector). In order to keep our families safe from this condition it is important to have at least some basic understanding of this gas in terms of where its found and how it can harm people.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers appreciates the dangers associated with carbon monoxide poisoning that people face every day. Our attorneys work hard to investigate all carbon monoxide poisoning cases to ensure all parties are held responsible for their role in an incident.
What is CO? Where Does It Come From?
Carbon monoxide (CO) gas is often referred to as the “silent killer” as it is odorless, tasteless and colorless but also deadly. Although a common gas that is released when fossil fuels are burned such as in oil or gas furnaces, this gas can cause sickness and even death. The best way to prevent exposure and poisoning is to the understand the common sources and how to best protect yourself, your family and home from being exposed to this noxious gas.
Effect Of Carbon Monoxide Exposure On The Body
Carbon monoxide is formed when a fossil fuel such as gasoline, oil or charcoal is not completely combusted during burning to create carbon dioxide. When inhaled, this gas combines with hemoglobin in the person’s blood, blocking their ability to carry needed oxygen to the cells of the body. By inhaling large quantities of this gas, the body begins to suffocate even though the person is still breathing in air.
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Depending on the amount of carbon monoxide in the air, the symptoms can come on within minutes or be delayed for a few hours. Poisoning can happen with lower exposures over a longer period of time or heavy exposure in a short amount of time. In severe cases, death can occur in as little as a few minutes. The general symptoms, in the order of severity are:
- Brain Damage
- Convulsions / respiratory arrest
- Unconsciousness / Death
Long-term effects can be caused from carbon monoxide exposure. Often there are delayed neurological disorders that happen a few days or even weeks after the exposure. They can include amnesia, short-term memory loss, dementia and other neurological disorders.
Treatment For Carbon Monoxide Ingestion
The obvious first treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning is removal from the gas or area of exposure. For slight exposure, this will alleviate the symptoms within a few hours. However, for more severe exposure, oxygen is administered to hasten the depletion of the gas in the body. By using oxygen through a ventilation mask, carbon monoxide will leave the body in one-quarter the time it would take breathing normal air. Other treatments may be needed for damage done to the brain and other organs from oxygen deprivation.
Preventing Carbon Monoxide Build-Up In Homes And Apartments
Since carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless, it cannot be easily detected. The best prevention for homes that use gas or oil furnaces is to install detectors in all rooms of the house. These are inexpensive and will give off an alarm if the levels become too high in the house. Other prevention methods are:
- Never burn a charcoal grill inside an enclosed home or garage. Every year when power goes out someone tries this method of heat or cooking at pays a deadly price.
- Never allow your car to idle within an enclosed area.
- Always use the fan above gas stoves when cooking
- Always have chimneys, furnaces and fireplaces inspected before winter
Approximately 15,000 people are treated for carbon monoxide poisoning each year and an average of 500 people die from the CO exposure. Do not let you or one of your family become one of these statistics.Legal Ramifications Related To Carbon Monoxide Poisoning In Homes, Mobile Homes & Apartments
- Furnace installation company
- Maintenance company
- Landlord or property owner
Resources on carbon monoxide emissions and poisoning: