For Immediate Release
November 22, 2010

KDHE Office of Communications
communications@kdheks.gov, 785-296-0461

KDHE Offers Tips to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The Kansas Department of Health and Environments (KDHE) reminds Kansans that as cold weather approaches the dangers associated with Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning increase. KDHE urges Kansans to take the proper steps to prevent CO poisoning.

“Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is extremely poisonous and can kill within minutes,” said John W. Mitchell, Acting Secretary. “It is found in combustion fumes, such as those made by cars and trucks, portable generators, stoves, gas ranges and heating systems. CO from these fumes can build up in places that do not have a good flow of fresh air and breathing high levels of CO can cause severe illness or death in a matter of minutes.”

Although CO poisoning can almost always be prevented, every year, about 500 people in the United States die and as many as 20,000 people visit emergency rooms as a result of accidental, non-fire related exposure to this toxic gas.

“Kansans are especially at risk during winter months when we tighten up our homes and turn on the furnace. It is extremely important to have the furnace and hot water heating system periodically inspected to be certain they are properly vented and do not leak exhaust fumes into your home,” said Tom Langer, Director of KDHE’s Bureau of Environmental Health. “Not only will you save money on your energy bills but fixing problems could save your life.”

KDHE also reminds Kansans to take great care any time that a storm causes power loss and you use gas operated generators or alternative heating devices.  Please, never use your oven to heat your home and never run a generator indoors!

Important safety tips to protect families from CO poisoning:

Exposure to CO can rapidly lead to cause loss of consciousness and death. The initial 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. Exposure to moderate and high levels of carbon monoxide has also been linked with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Survivors of severe carbon monoxide poisoning may suffer long term neurological problems.

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.

For more information and tips about CO, visit www.kdheks.gov/beh/index.html or call the KDHE Bureau of Environmental Health, 785-296-5606.