Cold weather increases risk for carbon monoxide poisoning

Poison HelpWith home-heating season near, the Minnesota Poison Control System and the Minnesota State Fire Marshal Division remind Minnesotans that the risk of dangerous exposures to carbon monoxide (CO) increases — but these exposures can be prevented.

Approximately 500 people die each year in the United States due to unintentional CO poisoning. Another 150,000 people end up in the emergency room. Children are especially vulnerable. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, 14 Minnesotans died of carbon monoxide poisoning in 2014.

Sources of Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, and poisonous gas which can leak from faulty furnaces, water heaters or gas stoves. Other sources include a running car engine in an attached garage or a gas-powered generator operating indoors or outside close to dwellings. Outdoor generators should be placed more than 20 feet from your home, doors and windows.

What are the Symptoms?
Carbon monoxide prevents effective delivery of oxygen throughout the body in the bloodstream. At lower levels, carbon monoxide can cause flu-like symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue

At higher levels, or with prolonged exposure, it can cause chest pain, confusion, disorientation, impaired vision and coordination, brain damage, coma and death.

iStock_000070642173_LargeHow Can You Protect Your Family?
Install CO detectors in your home. Minnesota law requires  all single family, apartment and multifamily dwellings have a UL-listed CO alarm within 10 feet of each bedroom.

Replace old CO detectors in your home. As a general rule, CO detectors need replacing every five years.  Follow manufacturer recommendations for more specific replacement information.

If the CO alarm sounds and anyone is feeling symptoms of CO poisoning, leave the house immediately. Call the Poison Center, fire department, local emergency medical services or local utility company.

For more information about CO poisoning, contact the Minnesota Poison Control System anytime at 1-800-222-1222 or visit us on the web at www.mnpoison.org. The State Fire Marshal Division has more information at http://ow.ly/Tb2O3

 Fire Marshal

 

HCMC NETWORK FEATURE: New Center for Hyperbaric Medicine

A new era has begun with the opening of the Center for Hyperbaric Medicine at HCMC (Photo 1).  From early plans and funding applications, through installation of a multiplace hyperbaric chamber and construction of a brand new hyperbaric medicine suite, a dedicated and multifaceted team on two continents has worked to make this state-of-the-art facility a reality.

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HCMC was the first and, from 1964 to 2008, the only provider of hyperbaric oxygen therapy to Minnesota and the region.  HCMC remains the only facility that provides emergency hyperbaric oxygen treatments 24/7 for critical patients with carbon monoxide poisoning, life- and limb-threatening infections, decompression sickness, and arterial gas embolism while also providing evidence-based care for non-emergency patients with radiation injury, non-healing wounds from diabetes, and other conditions (Photos 2 and 3). Hyperbaric medicine treatments at HCMC have increased annually as hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been shown effective for a growing number of chronic medical conditions.  A total of 3335 hyperbaric treatments were administered in 2011, including 135 emergency treatments and 3200 scheduled (non-emergent) treatments. Continue reading “HCMC NETWORK FEATURE: New Center for Hyperbaric Medicine”

New hyperbaric chamber installation scheduled for Thursday

Hennepin County Medical Center’s (HCMC) new hyperbaric chamber is expected to arrive late Wednesday to be installed starting Thursday morning. The 48-foot, 120,000 pound chamber will be unloaded from the truck and placed inside the 10,278-square foot addition to HCMC’s Purple Building (near the 716 S. 7th St. entrance).

Installation activities will begin at approximately 7 a.m. and continue throughout the day. Kraus-Anderson Construction Company is building the new addition that will house the hyperbaric chamber. 

Hyperbaric Chamber at loading dock in Australia

HCMC currently has the only multi-chamber hyperbaric oxygen facility in the state that’s used for 24/7 emergency treatment of critically ill patients; usually victims of carbon monoxide exposure. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is also used for treatments including radiation injuries, diabetic ulcers, chronic wound healing, and the HCMC chamber is used for research showing promise for patients with a traumatic brain injury.   

Original hyperbaric chamber being delivered by train, circa 1963

HCMC’s current hyperbaric chamber is 48 years old and located two blocks away from the downtown campus. The new hyperbaric chamber and wound healing center will open in the Spring of 2012.