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MedStar urges safety during cooler weather to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning

Posted Dec. 1, 2016

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It’s beginning to look — and feel — a lot like Christmas, and that means temperatures in Fort Worth will begin to dip soon. Historically, MedStar sees a jump in the number of medical calls related to cooler weather.

As temperatures drop, it’s not uncommon for residents to crank up the heat or use supplemental heating systems in their homes. Unfortunately, a buildup of carbon monoxide can result from a faulty heating system or the use of supplemental heating devices. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas created when fuels such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane and oil burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel can be sources of carbon monoxide.

“Carbon monoxide poisoning can be especially dangerous because people may suffer significant medical problems before anyone even realizes there’s a problem,” said Dr. Neal Richmond, the area’s EMS medical director.

Symptoms of CO poisoning may mimic flu symptoms, including headache, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting.

Last November and December, MedStar responded to 24 carbon monoxide-related 911 calls.

The National Fire Protection Association recommends these tips to keep you and your family safe:

  • Install CO alarms in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home and in other locations where required by applicable laws, codes or standards.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement and mounting height.
  • Call 911 if the CO alarm sounds. Immediately move to a fresh-air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for.
  • Test CO alarms at least once a month; replace them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • A generator should be used only in a well-ventilated location outdoors, away from windows, doors and vent openings.
  • Gas or charcoal grills can produce CO — only use them outside.

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