Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
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Use These Strategies to Help Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is a more common and deadly problem than you may think. Roughly 500 people die and 15,000 are sickened every year from it, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and nearly all could have been easily prevented. Consider these cases:

Think about the gas-powered engines you might use on a daily basis, like a generator, pump, pressure-washer, tractor or truck. All of these essential machines produce carbon monoxide and can become deadly if used indoors with little or no ventilation to dissipate the noxious gas. The risk of CO poisoning exists outdoors, too, if an engine’s exhaust fumes get trapped and concentrated in an area with minimal air movement.

The risk increases in winter

If you use a gas-powered engine of any size, you’re at risk for exposure to this noxious gas. Small gas-powered engines can produce almost as much exhaust as a full-sized vehicle in a matter of minutes. Because carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless and non-irritating, it’s impossible to detect without the correct instruments. Before you know what’s happened, you can end up seriously ill or even dead.

According to the CDC, more deaths from carbon monoxide exposure occur in the winter months than at any other time. That’s because generators and space heaters are more heavily used in the colder months, and ventilation is often sacrificed for warmth. Even warming up your truck with the garage doors open for a few minutes can produce enough carbon monoxide to make you sick.

Other causes of CO poisoning

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

If you and others work around gas-powered engines or virtually any machine powered by a fossil fuel, you should keep watch for symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning even if you’re working in an open field. A person exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide typically develops:

  • A bright red, flushed face
  • Blurry vision or vomiting
  • Profound weakness and tiredness
  • Headache, achy muscles or a tight chest
  • Dizziness and confusion

If the exposure continues, the person may lose consciousness, experience a seizure or suffer respiratory failure and cardiac arrest.

What to do if carbon monoxide poisoning has occurred

How to protect yourself and others on the farm

These common sense tips can help keep you safe from carbon monoxide poisoning:

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