How to Spot Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon Monoxide (CO) binds more strongly to red blood cells than oxygen. Victims of carbon monoxide poisoning are therefore starved of oxygen need for vital organs such as the heart and brain.

Unlike other conditions that decrease oxygen in the blood, victims of carbon monoxide poisoning are not pale or blue (cyanotic) but appear bright pink or flushed red.

The best defense against carbon monoxide poisoning is to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. Once poisoned, the only treatment is to replace the carbon monoxide with oxygen in the victim’s blood. This is done by having the victim breathe high concentrations of oxygen, and in the worst cases, victims must be placed in barometric chambers where oxygen is delivered within a high-pressure environment.

Carbon monoxide can leak from any of these:

  • Gas stoves
  • Gas water heaters
  • Gas clothes dryers
  • Fireplaces or firepits
  • Wood stoves
  • Gas or charcoal barbecues
  • Motorboats
  • Motorcycles
  • Gas-powered lawn equipment

Signs and Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Recognizing carbon monoxide poisoning is notoriously difficult due to the vague symptoms. The following symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may develop:

  • Headache and confusion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Dizziness and unstable gait
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Unconsciousness

First Aid Links


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