With winter’s chill in the air, it’s easy to take shortcuts with safety to stay warm. By doing everything from letting the car warm up in the garage to moving the grill too close to the house, we sometimes put our own and our family’s safety at risk.

Carbon monoxide (CO) exposure affects the health and safety of many every year, especially in the winter months. CO is an odorless gas that is contained within combustion fumes. CO is a danger to humans because it bonds to blood cells quicker than oxygen, and in doing so, puts our bodies at risk of oxygen deprivation. Oxygen deprivation can cause severe tissue damage and can be fatal.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Exposure to carbon monoxide causes symptoms similar to those of other common illnesses. If it is noticed that the symptoms clear or ease after leaving the house, but come back upon returning to the home, then it is likely that the symptoms are caused by exposure to carbon monoxide.

Common symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Dizziness / light-headedness
  • Weakness
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion

It is important to seek medical attention and to have your home checked for carbon monoxide if you experience these symptoms. Long-term exposure to even moderate levels of carbon monoxide can be fatal, and exposure to high levels of carbon monoxide can cause death within minutes.

Preventing CO Exposure

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the following tips for preventing exposure to CO:

  • Have your furnace, water heater and other gas, oil or coal burning appliances serviced every year
  • Install a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector in your home, and check the batteries regularly
  • Never use a grill, camp stove, generator or other gasoline- or charcoal-burning appliance inside your home or garage
  • Never heat your home with your gas stove
  • Do not leave your vehicle running inside your garage, especially when the garage door is closed
  • Make sure your stove and fireplace are properly vented

If you or a family member has been killed or severely injured due to prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide, speak with an experienced personal injury attorney in your area.