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Carbon Monoxide Deaths Increasing Nationwide
Carrie Coppernoll
The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City

Jan. 1--Carbon monoxide poisonings are on the rise nationwide, and portable generators and faulty home heating systems are the main culprits, according to a new government report.

Carbon monoxide deaths have increased in the past decade, according to a report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

About 180 deaths were reported in 2006, the most recent data available. Only about 120 deaths were reported in 1999.

The Oklahoma City Fire Department was dispatched to more calls of carbon monoxide poisoning in 2009 than in the previous year, said Battalion Chief Brian Stanaland.

Firefighters responded to 34 reports of carbon monoxide poisoning in 2008 and 40 in 2009, he said.

Carbon monoxide blocks oxygen from the bloodstream, Stanaland said. The poisonous gas can be deadly.

About 40 percent of all carbon monoxide deaths can be attributed to portable generators, according to the safety commission report. About 35 percent were from heating systems.

Stanaland said other sources include fireplaces, ovens, stoves, water heaters and vehicles.

"Any time anything burns, it's going to release carbon monoxide," he said.

Carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless and tasteless, Stanaland said. He recommends residents consider buying a carbon monoxide detector. They operate like a smoke detector.

Generators should only be used outside, he said. Home heating systems need regular, professional checkups. Pull a vehicle out of the garage before letting it sit to warm up in the cold winter months.

Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Safety tips to prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, from the National Fire Preventation Association (NFPA).

(Click HERE for a downloadable PDF of the artcile embedded below).

Symptoms of CO poisoning

CO enters the body through breathing. CO poisoning can be confused with flu symptoms, food poisoning and other illnesses. Some symptoms include shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, light headedness or headaches. High levels of CO can be fatal, causing death within minutes.

The concentration of CO, measured in parts per million (ppm) is a determining factor in the symptoms for an average, healthy adult.

* 50 ppm: No adverse effects with 8 hours of exposure.
* 200 ppm: Mild headache after 2-3 hours of exposure.
* 400 ppm: Headache and nausea after 1-2 hours of exposure.
* 800 ppm: Headache, nausea, and dizziness after 45 minutes; collapse and unconsciousness after 1 hour of exposure.
* 1,000 ppm: Loss of consciousness after 1 hour of exposure.
* 1,600 ppm: Headache, nausea, and dizziness after 20 minutes of exposure.
* 3,200 ppm: Headache, nausea, and dizziness after 5-10 minutes; collapse and unconsciousness after 30 minutes of exposure.
* 6,400 ppm: Headache and dizziness after 1-2 minutes; unconsciousness and danger of death after 10-15 minutes of exposure.
* 12,800 ppm: Immediate physiological effects, unconsciousness and danger of death after 1-3 minutes of exposure.

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