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Carbon Monoxide Poisoning (cont.)

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention

The best protection from carbon monoxide poisoning is to install a carbon monoxide alarm on each level of your home or boat as your first line of defense. A carbon monoxide monitor with an audible alarm works much like a home smoke alarm and beeps loudly when the sensors detect carbon monoxide.

  • If the alarm sounds, evacuate the building. People who have symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning should seek emergency medical care. Call the fire department or public service company to investigate.
  • Inspect your home for hazards.
    • Your home heating system, chimney, and flue must be inspected and cleaned by a qualified technician every year. Keep chimneys clear of bird and squirrel nests, leaves, and residue to ensure proper ventilation.
    • Be sure your furnace and other appliances, such as gas ovens, ranges, and cook tops, are inspected for adequate ventilation.
    • Do not burn charcoal inside your house (even in the fireplace). Have gas fireplaces inspected each fall to ensure the pilot light burns safely.
    • Do not operate gasoline-powered engines in confined areas such as garages or basements. Do not leave a car, mower, generator, or other vehicle running in an attached garage, even with the door open.
    • Do not block or seal shut exhaust flues or ducts for appliances such as water heaters, ranges, and clothes dryers.
    • Become familiar with the hazards of carbon monoxide poisoning and boating (please see Web Links section).
  • Some states in the US require carbon monoxide poison detectors in homes, boats, day care centers, businesses, etc. For a list of states that require carbon monoxide detectors, please read the Carbon Monoxide Detectors State Statues to see if you are in compliance.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prognosis

The prognosis for a person with carbon monoxide poisoning is difficult to predict.

  • Death can result from severe cases.
  • Even with proper treatment, some people develop long-term brain damage, resulting in complications such as severe memory loss, difficulty thinking, or other neurologic or psychiatric problems.
  • Others appear to have no long-term problems.

Medically reviewed by Avrom Simon, MD; Board Certified Preventative Medicine with Subspecialty in Occupational Medicine

REFERENCES:

CDC.gov. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning FAQs.

Hampson NB. Residential carbon monoxide alarm use: opportunities for poisoning prevention. J Environ Health. 2011 Jan-Feb;73(6):30-3.

Johnson-Arbor, K., et al. A survey of residential carbon monoxide detector utilization among Connecticut Emergency Department patients. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2012 Jun;50(5):384-9.

National Fire Protection Association. Fast Facts About Smoke Alarms and Fire.


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/19/2016

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Toxicity, Carbon Monoxide »

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas produced by incomplete combustion of carbonaceous material.

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