Tips for Parents
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
As the weather gets colder, carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning typically has more opportunities to occur. Share this fact checker with your student so he can easily recognize the symptoms of CO poisoning, should it occur.
What is carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death.
Where is CO found?
CO is found in combustion fumes, such as those produced by cars and trucks, small gasoline engines, stoves, lanterns, burning charcoal and wood, and gas ranges and heating systems. CO from these sources can build up in enclosed or semi-enclosed spaces. Breathing it can poison people and animals in these spaces.
What are the symptoms of CO poisoning?
The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are:
• Chest pain
High levels of CO inhalation can cause loss of consciousness and death. Unless suspected, CO poisoning can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms mimic other illnesses. People who are sleeping or intoxicated can die from CO poisoning before ever experiencing symptoms.
How does CO poisoning work?
Red blood cells pick up CO quicker than they pick up oxygen. If there is a lot of CO in the air, the body may replace oxygen in blood with CO. This blocks oxygen from getting into the body, which can damage tissues and result in death.
How can I avoid CO poisoning from my vehicle?
- Have a mechanic check the exhaust system of your car every year. A small leak in your car's exhaust system can lead to a build up of CO inside the car.
- Never run a car or truck in the garage with the garage door shut. CO can build up quickly while your car or truck is running in a closed garage. Never run your car or truck inside a garage that is attached to a house and always open the door to any garage to let in fresh air when running a car or truck inside the garage.
- If you drive a vehicle with a tailgate, when you open the tailgate, you also need to open vents or windows to make sure air is moving through your car. If only the tailgate is open CO from the exhaust will be pulled into the car.
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