Bailey & Partners Warn of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Risk in the Frozen East and the Balmy West

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While half the country enjoys unseasonably warm weather and the other half is in deep freeze, Attorney Patrick Bailey reminds the nation to beware of the risks carbon monoxide poses. The odorless and colorless gas has already inflicted injuries and claimed lives throughout the country.

Even in states where we aren't buried in mountains of snow, we need to remind the public of carbon monoxide poisoning risks

The winter of 2015 has been one of the mildest in the West but one of the most brutal in the East. While in Phoenix, Los Angeles and San Francisco, daytime temperatures have been spring-like, in places such as Boston and Bangor, frigid temperatures and torrential snow have made this one of the most severe winters on record. Cold weather and snow have coated the nation's capital and winter has wreaked havoc across Tennessee and Missouri. NBC News reported on February 17, 2015 that over "300,000 people woke up without power and federal government offices in Washington were closed on Tuesday after a rare band of snow and ice sliced across the South." 1,000 flights were also cancelled in the region due to dangerous flying conditions resulting from the widespread ice. Blackouts have occurred from Arkansas to the Carolinas as a result of the weather ("Winter Weather: 'Siberian Express' Coming to Iced-Over South" by M. Alex Johnson and Alexander Smith).

Attorney Patrick Bailey, of Bailey & Partners, represents victims from throughout the United States who have been injured as the result of carbon monoxide poisoning. Many of his clients have been injured as a result of defective furnaces and heaters in apartments or rental homes that were not properly maintained by landlords.

"Of course the weather itself is a danger," Bailey says, "but the public needs to be informed of the secondary dangers from carbon monoxide poisoning during severe snow storms. When the power is out and temperatures are freezing, people may turn to generators to power their heaters. These generators can produce carbon monoxide and if the area is not well ventilated or the generator is defective, the threat of injury or death from carbon monoxide exposure is real."

Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas that can be fatal when inhaled in large quantities. Even in small quantities, inhaling carbon monoxide can cause irreversible respiratory damage and traumatic brain injury. And, Bailey says, many victims don't know they are being injured until the impact has manifested itself in catastrophic injuries. "Memory loss, personality changes and even impaired physical co-ordination can occur as a result of exposure to the gas. When snow levels are high, even when electricity remains on, heater vents can become blocked by snow and the gas can build up inside homes. People, especially in the snow-bound part of the country, need to be reminded of this risk."

This scenario has been commonplace on the East Coast including in Maine. Even where winters are never mild, this winter has been particularly severe. According to the Bangor Daily News article "Maine sees 30 carbon monoxide poisoning cases during week of snowstorm" from February 3, 2015, the number of CO poisoning cases in the state this year "is more than triple the eight cases per week on average that occurred in January and February 2012, 2013 and 2014." Heavy snowfall and blocked heater vents are the culprit in many cases including a case that sent a family to the hospital with nausea as a result of CO exposure. Thus far, no fatalities have been reported this year in Maine as a result of CO poisoning. But even in states where the weather has not been so cold, the dangers abound.

In California, the San Bernardino Sun's Greg Cappis reported on January 22, 2015 in "2 die in Lucerne Valley from apparent carbon monoxide poisoning" that two men were using a portable generator in a sealed garage when they were overcome by the fumes. "Portable generators, furnaces, and any appliance or apparatus that burns fossil fuels must be working properly and vented appropriately to prevent CO poisoning. Even in states where we aren't buried in mountains of snow, we need to remind the public of carbon monoxide poisoning risks. Even when day time temperatures are pleasant, as they are in the West right now, temperatures still drop at night and heaters are necessary for many people," Bailey says.

He concludes with these words of warning: "Please be cautious and be sure that your appliances are vented and working properly and you have a CO monitor installed. Bailey & Partners can hold negligent landlords or appliance manufacturers responsible if they caused injury but we want to prevent these injuries before they ever occur."

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Cara Dolch
since: 09/2009
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