The fact sheet informed that accidental carbon monoxide poisoning is responsible for 500 deaths and 15,000 visits to the emergency room each year. The focus of the sheet was mainly on the elderly, who are more vulnerable to CO poisoning, especially if they have health issues such as anemia or heart or breathing conditions.
In the United States, carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless gas, is the most common cause of poisoning death. The gas can build up, as it is produced by gasoline engines, stoves and heating systems without proper ventilation.
The EPA says that people can help prevent CO poisoning by remembering the phrase “I CAN B”, which includes: Installing CO alarms near sleeping areas; Checking heating systems and fuel-burning appliances annually; Avoiding the use of non-vented combustion appliances; Never burning fuels indoors except in devices such as stoves or furnaces that are made for safe use and being attentive to possible symptoms of CO poisoning.
Minor symptoms of CO poisoning include: headache, nausea, vomiting, irritability, angina in heart patients and blurred vision. Progressing symptoms include: drowsiness, weakness, dizziness, fainting, severe headache and difficulty thinking.
As exposure to CO is prolonged, symptoms may become life-threatening, including increased heart rate, blackout spells, convulsions and seizures, eventually leading to coma and death.
A person can die from CO poisoning in just one night without noticing any symptoms, especially during the hours of sleep.