As you are all aware, temperatures across North Carolina have plummeted to below freezing in recent weeks. You most likely have heated your residence to escape the freezing cold weather. However, you should be aware that cases of carbon monoxide poisoning increase during the winter months.
Carbon monoxide is an invisible and odorless gas that kills more than 400 people in the US each year. The initial symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can mimic the onset of the flu. According to Mayo Clinic, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can include nausea, headache, dizziness and shortness of breath. It is not uncommon to confuse the initial symptoms of poisoning with an illness. In fact, a duplex of 10 people in Minnesota almost died after mistaking the early symptoms with the onset of a regular illness.
What Increases the Risk of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
There are multiple reasons why carbon monoxide poisoning can occur. Causes of poisoning include but are not limited to:
- Faulty equipment: Some cases of carbon monoxide poisoning are caused by faulty equipment. Refrigerators, boilers, stoves and other fuel-burning appliances in your home could leak carbon monoxide if they are defective.
- Lack of carbon monoxide detectors: Your residence should have carbon monoxide detectors if you have a fuel-burning appliance in your home or a connected garage. Detectors could trigger an alarm if carbon monoxide is detected. North Carolina has statutes that require carbon monoxide detectors to be used in certain buildings.
- Lack of maintenance or improper installation: Poisoning is also possible when certain appliances or detectors are not installed correctly. Regular maintenance should be performed on appliances and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are working properly.
- Improper ventilation: Carbon monoxide poisoning is possible when fuel-burning appliances are used in enclosed spaces. For instance, portable generators have become a common cause of carbon monoxide poisoning during power outages.
- Blocked chimneys: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends having your chimney checked and cleaned once per year. Clogged chimneys may cause a buildup of carbon monoxide.
- Vehicle defects: There are reports that certain models of Ford Explorers can leak carbon monoxide into the cabin. Multiple police officers have reported being poisoned while using these vehicles. We have a blog on this topic that can provide more information.
There are cases of carbon monoxide poisoning in residences, hotels or workplaces that were caused by the negligent actions of other parties. In such cases, it could be possible to file a claim for damages.
At Riddle & Brantley, LLP, Safety Counts.