What YOU need to know about carbon monoxide poisoning this winter

January 19, 2024

As winter weather moves into Oklahoma and people begin to use their furnaces and fireplaces, calls to the Oklahoma Poison Center about carbon monoxide poisoning will increase, according to the Blackwell Fire Department and Oklahoma’s Poison Center.

Don’t use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, or garage or near a window.

Carbon monoxide is found in fumes produced when fuel is burned in gas furnaces, ranges or water heaters, cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns and grills.

Proper ventilation is essential when any of these are used, and damage to or blockage of chimneys, vents or exhaust can cause carbon monoxide to build up indoors.

The most common early signs of poisoning due to carbon monoxide are headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain and confusion.

Severe symptoms include Fainting, irregular heartbeat, coma, seizures, stopping breathing, and heart attack.

Any person exposed to carbon monoxide who has anything more than minor symptoms should seek medical attention right away by calling 911.

If your carbon monoxide detector sounds or you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, get to fresh air immediately, and then call the poison center at (800) 222-1222 and the Blackwell Fire Department.

The BFD also urges residents to install a battery-operated or battery back-up carbon monoxide detector in their home. Those who already have them installed should check the batteries as the winter season continues. A detector should not be placed within 15 inches of heating or cooking appliances or in a humid area, such as the bathroom.

If a detector begins to sound everyone should leave the house, call 911 or go to an emergency department right away if anyone has moderate or severe symptoms, has a history of heart problems, is pregnant, or if an infant has been exposed.

Call your local gas company, fire department, or appliance repair service to come and find the source of the carbon monoxide.

Do not go back inside until the source of carbon monoxide has been identified and shut off or repaired.

Call the Oklahoma Poison Center with any questions or concerns regarding carbon monoxide that arise, and do not forget to save the poison center’s phone number, (800) 222-1222, in your phone.

Pharmacists and registered nurses at the poison center are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Please do not email the poison center or a member of the poison center staff, as poisoning emergencies are not handled through email. The Oklahoma Poison Center is a program of the University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy at OU Health Sciences. For more information, visit OklahomaPoison.org.