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

 

Poison Prevention Tips for Child Safety

Poison HelpNational Poison Prevention Week
March 15 – 21

In support of National Poison Prevention Week, March 15-21, the Minnesota Poison Control System and Safe Kids Minnesota are offering simple suggestions to keep children safe. The organizations emphasize that poisonings can happen anytime, anywhere, and to anyone.

The Poison Center states that about 50 percent of poisonings occur in children under the age of six and 94% of poisonings occur in the home. Recent research from Safe Kids Worldwide found that only 4% of parents expressed concerns about poisoning compared to other injury hazards in the home. In another Safe Kids report, 77% of children’s poison-related emergency room visits were related to exposure to medications belonging to a parent or grandparent.

To prevent these incidents, the Poison Center and Safe Kids Minnesota offer these important tips for families:

  • Program the nationwide Poison Help number (1-800-222-1222) into your cell or home phones.
  • Keep medicines and household products in their original containers.
  • Keep all medicines and household products up high and out of sight or locked up. If visitors are expected in your home, make sure suitcases and purses are stored out of children’s reach; remind visitors to take responsibility for their own medications.
  • Take the time to read and follow the label before taking or giving medicine.

Key Facts About the Minnesota Poison Control System

Anytime, anywhere, anyone can call the Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Anytime: The Poison Center Emergency Call Center is available 24/7/365. It’s free and confidential.

Anywhere: In 2014, the Poison Center managed 48,446 calls statewide from homes, schools, workplaces, and health care facilities statewide.

Anyone can call for help managing poison emergencies including; parents, caregivers, community members, emergency medical personnel, nurses, and physicians.

The Poison Center saves lives and money throughout Minnesota. Every dollar spent on Poison Center services saves over $13 in unnecessary medical costs. Ninety-one percent of exposures in the home are safely managed at home with expert consultation.

In 2014, Poison Center services saved Minnesotans $35 million in health care and lost productivity costs and prevented 27,000 unnecessary Emergency Department visits.

Visit www.mnpoison.org or www.safekids.org/medicinesafety for more prevention tips, educational resources, and downloadable materials. Follow The Poison Center on Twitter @mnpoisoncenter or on Facebook.

The Minnesota Poison Control System is located at Hennepin County Medical Center. The Poison Center is designated by the Minnesota Department of Health to provide poison information and consultative services to the entire State of Minnesota.

Safe Kids Minnesota works to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the number one cause of death for children in the United States. Safe Kids Minnesota is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing unintentional injury. Safe Kids Minnesota was founded in 1988 and is led by the Minnesota Safety Council. For more information, visit safekids.org   or minnesotasafetycouncil.org/safekids.