Lake County General Health District: 'Protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning'

Nov. 19—With the recent death in south Toledo from carbon monoxide poisoning, Lake County General Health District officials are reminding everyone to protect themselves from sources of carbon monoxide poisoning that are more commonly in use this time of year.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning each year.

The agency has also reported that more than 20,000 Americans visit the emergency room each year, and more than 4,000 Americans are hospitalized due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide — an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death if inhaled — is found in combustion fumes, such as those produced by furnaces, water heaters, small gasoline engines, stoves, generators, lanterns, and gas ranges, or by burning charcoal and wood.

People and animals in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces with these items can be poisoned and die from breathing in the gas.

The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion, noted Bert Mechenbier, environmental health supervisor for the health district.

"People who are sleeping or who have been drinking alcohol can die from carbon monoxide poisoning before they ever have symptoms," he said. "If you think you may have carbon monoxide poisoning, call your doctor right away."

According to the health district, tips to prevent accidental poisoning include:

—Having heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil, or coal-burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician each year

—Having at least one working carbon monoxide detector and checking the batteries twice annually, at the same time smoke detector batteries are checked. If the detector sounds, leave home immediately and call 911. Also, check the end-of-life date on the detector, as it may need to be replaced

—Seek medical attention if you think you have carbon monoxide poisoning and are feeling dizzy, lightheaded or nauseous

—Do not use generators, grills, camp stoves, or other gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal-burning products inside a home, basement, garage, camper, or even outside near an open window — this is especially important to remember during a power outage

—Do not warm up, or run a car or truck inside a garage attached to the house, even if the garage door is open. Make sure to shut off vehicles when parking in a garage

—Do not burn anything in a stove or fireplace that is not vented

—Do not heat your house with a gas oven

For more information, call the Lake County General Health District at 440-350-2543 or visit