Williams, Walsh & O'Connor, LLC

Carbon monoxide: A deadly gas you might not know is present

It is easy to assume that if the air you are breathing smells fine, it is fine. What many people might not realize is that even air that smells good might still be dangerous for you to breathe. The presence of carbon monoxide in the air in your home, office or vehicle could be deadly.

Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless. In the absence of a carbon monoxide detector, you might not ever know that the air is impacted by this gas.

How does carbon monoxide occur?

Carbon monoxide is a natural byproduct of certain things burning. Propane, wood, gas and other fuels all produce this gas. This is why it is necessary to have a well ventilated area if you are burning any of these items, including fuel that is burned through the combustion of an engine. Because of the risk or carbon monoxide, you need to open the garage before you start your vehicle.

What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are often difficult to spot. In fact, a person who is sleeping or under the influence of drugs or alcohol might not ever realize something is amiss. Some of the more common symptoms include shortness of breath, dizziness, a dull headache, confusion, weakness, loss of consciousness, blurry vision and nausea.

A person who has any symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning should seek out fresh air. This condition can lead to irreversible brain damage, which is even possible before you realize that there is a problem.

What are the treatments for this conditions?

Often, doctors won't wait for blood tests to come back before they start treating a person who is thought to have carbon monoxide poisoning. One of the most common treatments that you will receive is breathing pure oxygen through a mask or with the help of a ventilator. It is possible that some people who have this condition might need to undergo hyperbaric oxygen therapy in a special pressurized chamber.

How can I protect myself and my family?

One of the best ways to protect yourself and your family is to install carbon monoxide detectors in your home. You should also make sure that you are using everything that uses fuel in accordance with the instructions, which includes having proper ventilation. This includes avoiding the use of charcoal grills and generators indoors. In fact, you should give these items and other similar engines and appliances plenty of room between them and your home. Also, make sure that your fireplace is in good repair before you use it.

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