News Release

December 4, 2007

Contact: Carolyn Pennington, 860-679-4864

Connecticut Poison Control Center Issues Warning About Dangers of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

FARMINGTON, Conn. – In light of the recent incident in East Hartford in which several people were hospitalized due to carbon monoxide poisoning, the Connecticut Poison Control Center at the University of Connecticut Health Center is issuing an important reminder about the risks of household heating systems during the cold weather.

“With the days getting colder, homeowners are using their furnaces, stoves, and fireplaces – all of which produce carbon monoxide,” warns toxicologist Marc J. Bayer, M.D., medical director of the CPCC. “Without proper ventilation or improper combustion, heating systems can also cause dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.” It is poisonous and can be lethal. It is particularly dangerous because you can’t smell, see or taste it.

Bayer recommends that homeowners have their heating systems, wood stoves and fireplaces inspected and cleaned, and any worn or faulty parts replaced, to minimize the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. He strongly recommends carbon monoxide detectors. “Everyone should have a carbon monoxide detector in their living space and in their bedroom areas,” he says. “People are especially at risk while sleeping. A CO detector is a simple and economical precaution that can save lives.”

Early symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, nausea, unclear thinking, shortness of breath, weakness, and loss of muscle control. These symptoms often mimic the flu, leading to misdiagnosis by both patient and physician. Be mindful of CO poisoning if symptoms vanish when you leave your regular indoor environment. Severe symptoms can include convulsions and unconsciousness that can lead to death.

What should I do if I suspect CO in my home?

1) Leave your home immediately!

2) Call 911 or the Connecticut Poison Control Center (800-222-1222) from a cell phone or a neighbor’s house.

3) Call the local fire department to test for CO, or call you fuel supplier or licensed heating contractor for an emergency inspection.

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