Bitter cold raises risk of carbon monoxide poisoning

November 24, 2010

By Staff

NEW — 8:30 p.m. Nov. 24, 2010

The forecast calls for temperatures in Issaquah to reach the mid-20s overnight.

Though the region continues to recover from the Monday snowstorm, National Weather Service meteorologists predict temperatures to remain below freezing until Thursday.

The risk of injury or death from carbon monoxide poisoning increases as the temperature falls. Carbon monoxide poisoning can strike suddenly and without warning.

In some cases, physical symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may include severe headache, nausea and vomiting, and lethargy and fatigue. Head outside for fresh air immediately and call for medical help from a mobile phone or a neighbor’s home if carbon monoxide poisoning occurs.

State and local public health officials urge residents to take precautions to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Avoid combustion “space heaters” without exhaust vents.
  • Do not cook or heat with charcoal grills inside the home.
  • Gas ovens should not be used as indoor heat sources, even for a short time.
  • During a power outage or at other times, do not operate fuel-powered machinery — such as a generator — indoors, including inside a garage. Keep running generators away from open windows or vents.

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas. The substance cannot be seen or smelled — but can kill a person in minutes.

Find lists of carbon monoxide prevention tips — and other safety and disaster information — from Public Health – Seattle & King County and the state Department of Health.

“The importance of preventing carbon monoxide poisoning is too often shown with the sad news of people getting sick and even dying,” Secretary of Health Mary Selecky said in a statement. “A carbon monoxide detector can help. Remember, if you have friends, family or neighbors who are without power, be sure they’re not burning charcoal or running a generator indoors.”

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