The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranks Nebraska as one of the states with the highest mortality rate from carbon monoxide. Joan McVoy is a registered nurse at the Nebraska Regional Poison Center and says the number of calls they have received regarding carbon monoxide increased nearly 13% between 2014 and 2015.
McVoy says carbon monoxide has no color, taste or smell and the symptoms can be easily confused with the flu or other health conditions. Those symptoms include sleepiness, headache, dizziness, blurred vision, vomiting and shortness of breath. The first step in treating it is to get the victim into fresh air and seek medical attention immediately. The CDC reports there are more than 400 deaths and approximately 15,000 emergency room visits each year as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Common causes of excessive carbon monoxide in the home includes gas, wood or oil heating systems in poor condition or unvented non-electric space heaters. McVoy says that is why it is so important to have heating equipment inspected every year including the vents. An added measure of security would be to make sure carbon monoxide alarms are installed on every level of the home including outside bedrooms. McVoy says batteries need to be checked several times a year.
If you have any questions make sure to keep the Nebraska Regional Poison Center number handy – 1-800-222-1222.