Understanding the Silent Killer: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Connecticut

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that can be difficult to detect, but very harmful if inhaled. An East Hartford family confronted the silent killer in their home after a strong storm left them without power and relying on a generator in their basement.

A family member passed out, leading to a phone call to emergency crews for assistance. Firefighters on the scene detected the cause: high levels of CO, caused by the generator. Thankfully, help arrived in time.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that CO poisoning annually causes over 400 death. Additionally, over 20,000 people seek emergency medical treatment for exposure to the toxic gas and 4,000 actually end up spending time in the hospital to recover. Understanding the warning signs of CO poisoning as well as common causes may one day save your life, or that of someone you love.

Causes and Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

CO is a by-product of burning fuels and can be an issue whenever wood, kerosene, coal, propane or natural gas are burned in an enclosed space. One of the most common ways people become exposed to carbon monoxide is through car exhaust as well as home heating systems.

Since carbon monoxide has no distinct qualities that are easy to detect, it's important to learn the symptoms of exposure to the gas. Carbon monoxide inhalation may initially cause headaches, dizziness and shortness of breath. As exposure continues, a CO victim may experience confusion, nausea and lose muscular coordination. Severe cases can progress to unconsciousness and even death.

If you are experiencing symptoms of CO poisoning, get fresh air immediately. If you were at home, do not go back inside; go to a neighbor's house to call for emergency assistance and to report your symptoms. If CO exposure is confirmed, after seeking medical treatment but before returning home a qualified professional should inspect your home to find the source of the CO.

Protecting Yourself and Your Family From Unintentional CO Poisoning

The simplest way to protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning is to install CO detectors in your home. Most home improvement stores or large retail stores will carry some type of detector. The devices are similar to smoke detectors and sound off an alarm when the sensors detect the presence of carbon monoxide.

Another good way to prevent CO poisoning is to keep your home and garage well ventilated at all times to prevent the build-up of gases of all kinds. If you have a garage, never leave the car running when you aren't inside. Even if you just have to run inside really quickly, always turn the car completely off before you leave.

Be sure to look specifically for the carbon monoxide content of household appliances such as grills, ovens, heaters, generators and anything else that you may be concerned about. Remember: it's always better to be safe than sorry.

If you've been affected by CO poisoning, an experienced carbon monoxide injury attorney in your area can help you understand your right to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages or any other expenses related to a faulty furnace, generator, ventilator, etc.