Carbon Monoxide: What It is and What to Do if You Are Exposed
An experienced Personal Injury Lawyer can inform you of your rights if you or someone you know has been exposed to carbon monoxide. More than 20,000 people in the U.S. visit the emergency room each year for carbon monoxide poisoning. Of those, 400 of them will die. Carbon monoxide has been called a “silent killer”and is a common industrial hazard. Even small amounts can be harmful, so it is important to know what carbon monoxide is and what to do if you are exposed to it.
What Carbon Monoxide Is
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas produced from the incomplete burning of carbon containing materials like natural gas, coal, kerosene, oil, propane and wood. It is produced by forges, blast furnaces and coke ovens on large industrial sites. CO is also produced by the internal combustion engine in smaller equipment like forklifts, gas-powered generators, marine engines and power washers among others.
How CO Harms
Improper ventilation can quickly allow dangerous amounts of carbon monoxide to build up. When breathed in, the CO binds with hemoglobin in your blood at 300 times the rate of oxygen. Carbon monoxide poisoning deprives your heart, lungs and the rest of your body from the essential oxygen it needs causing you to suffocate and lose consciousness. With enough exposure, this can happen in minutes.
The Signs of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
If someone has been exposed to carbon monoxide, they will experience various symptoms before losing consciousness. The amount of exposure will determine how quickly these symptoms move from bad to worse.
- Dull Headache
- Difficulty Breathing
- Blurred Vision
- Loss of Consciousness
Complications of CO Poisoning
Carbon monoxide can cause reversible and irreversible damage depending on severity of exposure.
- Permanent brain damage
- Heart damage – potentially leading to severe cardiac complications
- Fetal death and miscarriage
Those Most at Risk
CO poisoning is dangerous for everyone, but some are more at risk for severe complication, faster.
- Young children
- People at high altitudes
- People with heart or lung diseases
- Smokers or others with already elevated CO levels
What to Do
If you or someone you are with displays these symptoms and you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, follow the steps below to quickly get help.
- Move to a well-ventilated area or outside as quickly as possible.
- Call 911 immediately.
- Administer 100% oxygen with a tight-fitting mask, if the victim is still breathing.
- Administer CPR if the victim has stopped breathing.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious and swift acting hazard. Be sure that any fuel burning equipment has proper ventilation. If you feel uncomfortable with the situation at work, discuss it with your supervisor immediately. You could save the life of your co-workers and even yourself.
If you or someone you know has suffered carbon monoxide poisoning, contact The Personal Injury Department at The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP. A personal injury lawyer at The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP can inform you of legal options you may not know you have.