For Immediate Release
December 10, 2007

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

KDHE Cautions Against Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) urges Kansans to take precautions to prevent carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning during winter severe weather. As temperatures drop, there is increased risk for CO poisoning and deaths.

Carbon monoxide can be fatal if people are exposed to high levels of CO, even for a brief time. Kansans who use indoor gas heaters and fireplaces need to exercise extreme caution, and verify that there is direct exhaust venting to the outside, regularly check and maintain fuel burning appliances and carefully monitor themselves and their loved ones for signs of CO poisoning.

Generators and petroleum fuel-burning engines or appliances are often used when there are power outages. CO is a poisonous gas found in combustion fumes produced by burning fuels such as gasoline, natural gas, kerosene, charcoal and wood. In the home, CO can come from a gas-fueled furnace, gas water heater, gas clothes dryer, gas ranges, kerosene space heaters, portable generators, gas or charcoal grills, fireplaces or wood stoves. CO cannot be seen or smelled and can kill in minutes.

Tips to avoid CO poisoning include:

Exposure to CO can cause loss of consciousness and death. The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. People who are sleeping or who have been drinking alcohol can die from CO poisoning before ever having symptoms.

Anyone who suspects symptoms of CO poisoning should go outside and seek fresh air immediately. If a person has collapsed or is not breathing, call 911 for emergency medical assistance immediately from a safe location.