Williams, Walsh & O'Connor, LLC

What do consumers need to know about carbon monoxide poisoning?

Carbon monoxide detectors are readily available. However, many people don't realize the seriousness of this illness. Some falsely believe that they will know if they are being exposed to carbon monoxide. The sad fact is that you may never know that you are in danger. Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas, so you can't see it or smell it.

There are many sources of carbon monoxide. It can come from engines, including the ones on boats and watercraft. It can also come from fireplaces, fuel burning in vehicles, grills, stoves, gas ranges, lanterns and furnaces. Basically, if it burns a fuel source, wood, propane, gasoline or charcoal, it is producing carbon monoxide. The wide variety of exposure causes means that everyone is at risk of suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.

How serious is carbon monoxide poisoning?

Annually, around 20,000 people have to seek care at the emergency room for carbon monoxide poisoning. There are more than 4,000 carbon monoxide-related hospitalizations and more than 400 deaths each year in this country. Infants, people who have respiratory conditions and the elderly are more likely to have issues related to carbon monoxide.

How can you prevent carbon monoxide poisoning?

One of the most important things to remember is that you should never use anything that might produce carbon monoxide unless you have good ventilation. This means never starting a vehicle or boat in an enclosed garage and never using things like grills indoors. Some items, such as furnaces or gas ranges, are safe to use indoors as long as you've verified that the ventilation system for the appliance is in good condition and working properly.

What are the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning?

The signs of carbon monoxide poisoning are often overlooked or mistaken for something else. If you have any of the following symptoms and think you have been exposed to carbon monoxide, get out into fresh air and call for emergency medical care.

  • Confusion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dull headache
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Blurry vision
  • Loss of consciousness

Prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to irreversible brain damage and other serious issues. The body begins to replace the oxygen in the blood with carbon monoxide, so the brain and other organs aren't getting what they need.

If you think that you suffered carbon monoxide poisoning due to a defective product, you might want to hold the manufacturer liable. This can be done through a product liability claim, which enables you to seek compensation for the damages you suffered.

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