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Nebraska Posts One of the Highest Death Rates of Carbon Monoxide Poisonings in the United States

Nebraska Regional Poison Center Offers Tips to Keep Your Family Safe

Each year, carbon monoxide poisoning kills nearly 500 people nationwide and sickens thousands more. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Nebraska has one of the highest percentages of carbon monoxide fatality rates in the United States. So far this year, the Nebraska Regional Poison Center has received 228 calls concerning carbon monoxide. However, this figure can be misleading because carbon monoxide poisoning is often under reported. 

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include sleepiness, headache, dizziness, blurred vision, nausea, shortness of breath and convulsions. The first step in treating carbon monoxide poisoning is getting the victim to fresh air. Then, seek medical attention immediately.

Carbon monoxide is a gas produced when fuels burn incompletely, as almost all fuels do to some extent.  It has no color, taste or smell. The major causes of carbon monoxide poisoning include:

    Using heating equipment that is in poor repair.
    Using unvented space heaters.
    Lack of ventilation in a car.
    Using a charcoal grill indoors.

When fresh air is available and fuel is burning properly, there is little danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. However, operating an internal combustion engine or a poorly adjusted fuel-burning appliance in a closed area without fresh air can become fatal. 

The Nebraska Regional Poison Center offers the following suggestions to help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:

* Have heating systems, water heaters and any other gas, oil or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.

* Install carbon monoxide detectors on every level in your house and near sleeping areas.

* Follow the manufacturer’s recommendation on replacement of carbon monoxide detectors; some have a short lifespan of only several years!

* Vent fuel-burning heaters to the outside.

* Do not use a gas range or oven to heat a room.

* Never leave a car running in an attached garage, even with the door open.

* Have the muffler and tailpipes on your vehicles checked regularly.

Remember, prevention is the best treatment for poisonings. The Nebraska Regional Poison Center offers tips on carbon monoxide poisoning prevention as a free community service. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning or if you have any questions, contact the Nebraska Regional Poison Center at (402) 955-5555 in the Omaha metropolitan area or toll-free at 1-800-222-1222 (in Nebraska and Wyoming).

The Nebraska Regional Poison Center is sponsored by The Nebraska Medical Center and the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

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Nebraska Posts One of the Highest Death Rates of Carbon Dioxide Poisonings in the United States

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