The silent killer

Published 4:08 pm Friday, March 3, 2017

On Tuesday morning, a family in Washington suffered carbon monoxide poisoning in their home. After finding the family members unconscious, a neighbor called 911.

Authorities believe the source of carbon monoxide to be one of a few gas heaters in the home.

This incident brings to light a very serious, unseen danger that can be lurking in a home without the tenants’ knowledge.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 1,500 Americans die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning. About 900 of those deaths occur in homes and could have been prevented.

If one hasn’t done so already, make sure there is a carbon monoxide detector in one’s home. Carbon monoxide is a clear, odorless gas, so it’s impossible to know when levels are getting too high without a detector.

Carbon monoxide poisoning leads to dizziness, nausea, confusion, weakness and shortness of breath. In the Washington family’s case, it rendered them unconscious. A detector is not 100-percent foolproof, but it will increase the likelihood that a person can identify the problem before it’s too late to evacuate or too late to call for help.

Common household sources of carbon monoxide include heaters, stoves, portable generators, furnaces, vehicles, grills and dryers. This means no home is exempt from the potential dangers of it.

Should homeowners live in fear of carbon monoxide? Of course not. But should they take steps to protect against high levels? Absolutely.

As evidenced by the CDC data, most cases of carbon monoxide poisoning are preventable.

If you suspect there is a carbon monoxide leak in your home, turn off all appliances and call a technician who can help. If a loved one is already experiencing symptoms of poisoning, call 911 immediately and move to a place with fresh air.