The Unseen Killer in Cold Weather and During Power Outages: How to Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Share Article

Each cold weather season and during each major power outage, the Life Support Technologies group (LST) sees a spike in Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning victims at its northeastern U.S. hospital-based hyperbaric medicine facilities. Potentially fatal carbon monoxide poisoning can be avoided with a little knowledge and some planning: maintain appliances and engines in good working condition, and do not operate charcoal grills, fuel-burning space heaters, portable generators, car or truck engines in confined spaces.

A Patient being placed in a Hyperbaric Chamber

When Carbon Monoxide poisoning is diagnosed, the standard of care is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.

Each cold weather season and during each major power outage, the Life Support Technologies group (LST) sees a spike in Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning victims at its northeastern U.S. hospital-based hyperbaric medicine facilities. Potentially fatal carbon monoxide poisoning can be avoided with a little knowledge and some planning: maintain appliances and engines in good working condition, and do not operate charcoal grills, fuel-burning space heaters, portable generators, car or truck engines in confined spaces.

The spike in CO cases during the first cold weather spells can usually be traced to improperly serviced heating system, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The CPSC advises having heating units serviced before cold weather sets in. Spikes in CO cases resulting from winter storms and power outages is attributed to the increased use of gas-powered emergency electrical generators, the use of fuel-burning space heaters in enclosed areas, and even people who try and seek shelter in their running vehicles.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless, highly poisonous gas emitted by car and truck engines, furnaces, fuel-burning space heaters, charcoal grills, cooking ranges, water heaters, fireplaces, portable generators, wood-burning stoves, and smoke. When inhaled, CO bonds 230 times more readily with the blood’s hemoglobin than oxygen; CO prevents hemoglobin from transporting oxygen. When not fatal, CO can cause serious loss of cognitive function if not detected early and properly treated.

Symptoms of CO poisoning include: dull headache, weakness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, confusion, blurred vision, and loss of consciousness. CO poisoning symptoms may be misdiagnosed as flu, food poisoning or a host of other maladies.

It is advisable to install a carbon monoxide detector near the sleeping area, but away from appliances or humid areas, according to the CPSC.

When CO poisoning is diagnosed, the standard of care is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. HBOT involves the patient breathing 100% oxygen while they are under increased atmospheric pressure inside a hyperbaric chamber. Usually, multiple HBOT treatments are required to completely break the carbon monoxide-hemoglobin bond so that the victim’s blood can again properly transport life-sustaining oxygen.

Carbon Monoxide can overcome unsuspecting individuals or entire families while they sleep. The best treatment results are obtained when medical treatment occurs promptly after the onset of CO poisoning.

In the event that carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected, it is crucial that victims immediately get away from the source of the carbon monoxide. This may entail evacuating family and occupants from inside a house. Everyone who has been exposed -- or potentially exposed -- to carbon monoxide must then be taken promptly to a hospital for evaluation. While waiting for transportation to the hospital and while being transported, persons suspected of having been exposed to carbon monoxide should breathe 100% medical grade oxygen.

For more information see:

Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
http://www.cpsc.gov

About the Life Support Technologies Group (LST)
The Life Support Technologies Group (LST) is a Tarrytown, NY-based medical and life-support engineering company specializing in Advanced Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine Services to hospitals in the NY-NJ-CT region. LST has been in business for 20 years and currently provides services to 9 hospitals.
Glenn Butler, CEO
Life Support Technologies Group
(914) 333-8412
http://www.lifesupport-USA.com

Share article on socal media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Gerry Koinig

Bernie Chowdhury
Life Support Technologies group
since: 10/2012
Like >
Visit website