Threats of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Abound as Temperatures Drop in Los Angeles: Attorney Patrick Bailey Warns Against Complacency

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Because Southern California is associated with palm trees, sunny skies and warm breezes, residents and visitors may overlook the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning in the Southland during the fall. Bailey warns this can be a dangerous mistake in California, throughout the southwest, Florida and other regions where cold weather is often considered an afterthought.

Aviation Law and Carbon Monoxide Injury Attorney Patrick Bailey

Every region of the country and people from all walks of life are at risk. Carbon monoxide poisoning does not discriminate

According to the National Weather Service, Minneapolis has had an average high this October of 53 degrees and an average low in the 30s. Residents there, throughout the mid-west, east, pacific northwest and much of the nation are bracing for icy weather and will have their heaters on for the next six months. California and other southwestern states, however, are not typically mentioned in discussions of frigid fall weather. But when heaters are turned on, the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning increases dramatically. No region of the country is immune to the risks.

Los Angeles Lawyer Patrick Bailey says that his office receives dozens of calls about carbon monoxide poisoning each year in the fall and the winter. "Residents of California must be particularly aware of these threats because we sort of take our weather for granted. Wall heaters, furnaces, heating ducts, chimneys and all of the piping involved with heating apartments and other buildings may get neglected in Los Angeles. But the threat is real even though we may turn our heaters on later in the fall compared to other regions," Bailey says.

In contrast to places like Minneapolis, Los Angeles has seen an average high in October of 77 degrees and an average low of 56. Many people will turn their heaters on temporarily in the early fall when the cold starts but, by December, the average low in Los Angeles will be 47. As more heaters are turned on, the risk of injury from carbon monoxide poisoning increases dramatically.

Over the last several years, Bailey's law firm has represented several clients who have suffered carbon monoxide injuries in Southern California."Our firm focuses on these cases because they are extremely complex cases to litigate and maintaining the most up-to-date information on CO poisoning is crucial to success. Over the years, we have become extremely knowledgeable about this area of personal injury that often results in permanent brain damage from unsafe wall heaters and other appliances."

"We see a lot of cases in which an apartment building owner or manager does not install a carbon monoxide monitor and also does not check the wall heaters for safe operation. Temperatures drop and hundreds of residents in a single apartment building turn on their heaters at the same time. Those heaters may be twenty, thirty, or more years old. The risk of injury or death is substantial especially if those appliances have not been properly maintained by landlords," he says.

Since carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, its danger is insidious. Symptoms of CO poisoning can include weakness, joint pain, nausea, head ache and confusion. "These symptoms," Bailey says, "especially in Southern California, are often mistaken for flu because awareness of cold weather and dangers from our heaters are not in the forefront of our minds. When a patient tells their doctor of the symptoms, neither the doctor or patient may suspect CO poisoning even though it can be diagnosed using a simple blood test." He says that, "if you have any reason to suspect that you or a loved one has been exposed to dangerous levels of the gas, you need to take immediate action so the proper treatment can be administered." Without proper treatment, long-term injury may result.

To reduce the risks of injury or wrongful death, Bailey suggests installing CO detectors in your home and office. He also suggests checking all gas appliances for proper venting and insulation at least once a year since water heaters, furnaces, wall heaters, gas ranges and other gas or oil burning appliances can be sources of CO leaks. If you rent or lease, be vigilant about having your landlord inspect the appliances. Make sure they have also installed a working carbon monoxide monitor in your rented house, apartment or condominium.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen in a wide-variety of places: from mountain cabins to apartments in the heart of Los Angeles; from high-rise office buildings to single-family homes. "After so many years of handling these types of cases and learning so much about the medical challenges victims face, my hope is to educate the public about the risks and help prevent some of the tragedies," Bailey says. "Every region of the country and people from all walks of life are at risk. Carbon monoxide poisoning does not discriminate."

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