Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gas that is both colorless and odorless, making it impossible for humans to detect without the use of a carbon monoxide detector. Unfortunately, many people do not install CO detectors in their houses. Each year, 20,000 people in the United States receive emergency care for CO poisoning and over 400 people die. Family caregivers and elder care providers who recognize the symptoms of CO poisoning can ensure the older adults they care for get help quickly when signs appear.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Symptoms.
CO is dangerous because when it is breathed in, it replaces oxygen in the bloodstream, causing cells to die and organs to stop working. If help is not received immediately, the gas can kill a person in minutes. Recognizing the symptoms of CO poisoning can help family caregivers and elder care providers to save the lives of seniors. The symptoms are:
- A dull headache.
- Vomiting or nausea.
- Increased heart rate.
- Breathing fast.
- Blurry vision.
- Chest pain.
Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning.
Even when a person gets help for CO poisoning, there can be serious complications. In some cases, the heart can be severely damaged. Sometimes the brain is permanently damaged. Because the complications of CO poisoning are so serious, it’s important that family caregivers and elder care providers take steps to help seniors prevent poisoning. Some of the ways to prevent CO poisoning are:
- Install battery powered CO detectors in the home near bedrooms where they will wake people. Change the battery every six months. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you change the battery when you change your clocks in the fall and spring. CO detectors should be replaced every five years.
- Have the heating system, water heater, and all appliances that use gas, oil, or coal inspected by a professional annually.
- Chimneys should be cleaned each year as they can become blocked, allowing the deadly gas to build up in the house.
- Don’t use emergency power generators inside the house or garage. They should be placed outside the house and at least 20 feet away from doors and windows.
- Never leave a car running in an attached garage, not even when the door is opened. CO can seep into the house.
- Never use charcoal grills or camp stoves inside.
- Do not use a gas oven to heat the home.
- Buy only gas appliances that have a seal from a national testing agency, such as Underwriters’ Laboratories.
If family caregivers or elder care providers notice signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, it is important to move the older adult outside into fresh air and immediately call 911. Acting quickly could save a life.
If you or someone you know needs elder care in Buffalo, MN, contact Prairie River Home Care. We provide quality and affordable home care services for many fragile or senior members in the communities we serve. Call us at (888) 660-5772 for more information.
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