Follow Key Safety Tips and Recognize the Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning To Help Prevent Needless Tragedies
As college students and their parents prepare for the upcoming school year, it's important that they consider the safety of the dormitories or apartments that will serve as the students' homes away home. One often overlooked aspect of home safety is protection from accidental carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
CO is one of the leading causes of accidental poisoning deaths in America.
The American College of Emergency Physicians wants to remind students and their parents to be aware of CO safety practices and recognize the symptoms of CO poisoning. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:
- Ask dorm officials or landlords in advance if residences are equipped with working CO alarms. If they aren't, supply your own alarm, as having a CO alarm is virtually the only way to detect this invisible, odorless and tasteless gas.
- Install at least one CO alarm, preferably near the sleeping area. Make sure the alarm is battery operated or has battery backup to ensure it functions during power outages. Test the alarm weekly and change the batteries with each daylight saving time change.
- Never burn charcoal or other outdoor cooking appliances indoors or in partially enclosed porches or garages. CO comes from common, fossil fuel burning appliances, such as grills, as well as furnaces, hot water heaters, gas ranges/ovens, fireplaces and gas-powered generators.
- Don't ignore the alarm if it sounds, even if you feel fine. CO alarms are designed to go off before you feel the effects of CO. Immediately move everyone outside to a source of fresh air and dial 911. Do not re-enter until emergency responders find the source of CO and provide further instruction.
"Carbon monoxide poisoning can mimic common symptoms associated with the flu, so it is important that people know its signs and symptoms," said Dr. Frederick Blum, of ACEP. "At mild to moderate exposure levels, these symptoms can include headache, nausea, vomiting, confusion and fatigue. And at extreme levels, a person can suffer convulsions, unconsciousness and even death in as little as 15 minutes."