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Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: A Preventable Tragedy

Posted By Regan Zambri Long, PLLC || 3-Jan-2008

Recent articles in the Washington Post highlight the prevalence of carbon monoxide poisoning, the leading cause of accidental poisoning in America:

"Eight people who were overcome by carbon monoxide Wednesday night were in stable condition yesterday, and all are expected to survive, authorities said. The carbon monoxide came from a leak, probably in a faulty furnace, . . . ." 

Accidental CO Poisoning Kills More Than 400 Americans a Year

"A new report underscores the importance of taking precautions to protect you and your loved ones from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, especially when using heating appliances during the winter.

From 1999 to 2004, accidental carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning killed an average of 439 people a year in the United States, says a study in the latestMorbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CO is a colorless, odorless, tasteless toxic gas produced by devices such as natural gas-powered furnaces and portable generators. Many people overlook or aren’t aware of symptoms of CO poisoning, including headache, nausea, dizziness and confusion.

From 1999 to 2004, there were a total of 2,631 unintentional, non-fire-related CO deaths in the nation, for an annual average age-adjusted death rate of 1.5 deaths per one million people. Those most likely to die this way included adults over age 65 (628), men (1,958), non-Hispanic whites (1,941), and non-Hispanic blacks (305).

Most of the deaths occurred in January and, among states, Nebraska had the highest CO-related death rate.
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The report also noted that unintentional CO exposure causes about 15,000 emergency department visits a year in the U.S.

The authors called for increased public education, especially during the winter heating season, to help prevent deaths from CO poisoning. They also recommended establishment of a national surveillance system to monitor CO-related health outcomes. This information could help target public prevention efforts and reduce CO-related injury and death."

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), guidelines for prevention of home carbon monoxide exposure include the following common-sense safety tips:

  • "Do have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.  
  • Do install a battery-operated CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. If the detector sounds leave your home immediately and call 911.  
  • Do seek prompt medical attention if you suspect CO poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseous.  
  • Don’t use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, or garage or near a window.  
  • Don’t run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open. 
  • Don’t burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t vented.  
  • Don’t heat your house with a gas oven."

As Regan Zambri & Long has posted on previous occasions, carbon monoxide poisoning poses significant dangers for families, especially during the winter months when homes are closed tightly and various heating sources are being used.

For information about your legal rights, please click here or call
the law firm of Regan Zambri & Long, PLLC at 202-463-3030.    

Categories: Consumer Safety
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