ACHD Offers Tips for Protection Against Carbon Monoxide

PITTSBURGH – As another heating season begins, the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) reminds residents of the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas that is the by-product of incomplete combustion of a fuel. Hundreds of people die each year nationwide from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, but most deaths could be prevented through greater awareness and education.

“Carbon monoxide poisoning is known as the ‘silent killer,’ said Dr. Karen Hacker, Director of the Allegheny County Health Department. “Exposure to carbon monoxide can gradually cause a person to become unconscious, and eventually die. It’s critical that residents have carbon monoxide detectors in their homes, and to have their furnaces and fireplaces cleaned and inspected before each heating season.”

ACHD strongly encourages the use of carbon monoxide detectors. They are extremely helpful and can be purchased at most stores that carry home supplies. They can be lifesavers; however, detectors are no substitute for regular furnace maintenance.

Carbon monoxide poisoning may include any of the following symptoms: headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, rapid heartbeat, loss of hearing, blurry vision, vomiting, disorientation, seizures, loss of consciousness, coma, respiratory failure and cardiac arrest. Anyone who believes they are experiencing these symptoms due to carbon monoxide poisoning should leave the premises and immediately call 911.

Everyone is at risk, but individuals with health problems such as heart or lung diseases, the elderly, infants, children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable.

For a free educational brochure in regards to the dangers of carbon monoxide, visit: http://www.achd.net/injury/pubs/pdf/CO_Update.pdf.