Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning can kill you, and it can do so quickly, sometimes without ever revealing itself as the cause of death. As a colorless, odorless, and tasteless deadly gas, CO is known as the “silent killer.”
CO enters your body when you breathe it in. After you breathe it in, it replaces the oxygen in your red blood cells. When sufficient amounts of oxygen are not transported to your organs and tissues, they may become damaged and begin to atrophy.
The internal damage caused by CO poisoning is known as hypoxia. The heart’s tissues are especially sensitive to damage from oxygen deprivation. When your myocardial tissues are damaged to a certain extent, heart complications can occur, causing immediate death. This is most likely to happen when your exposure to CO is acute or chronic and in high concentrations.
Other factors can generate complications that may lead to immediate death from CO poisoning. Examples include pulmonary edema, fetal death, and pregnancy complications.
Depending on the concentration of CO in the air being breathed, as well as a person’s general health, CO poisoning affects one individual differently than the next. MedlinePlus states that a person who is intoxicated or sleeping is at greater risk of dying from CO poisoning because they will not sense the symptoms of the poisoning until it is too late. This is why so many CO poisoning victims die in their sleep when the gas has been roaming through their houses overnight.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can produce the following symptoms and signs:
The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Safety Alert suggests that the following types of people are most susceptible to lethal CO poisoning:
Nearly 500 people die annually from CO poisoning, per the American Red Cross. Fuel-burning appliances are often the point of origin for this leaking, deadly gas. Although most of these appliances do not, in and of themselves, generate lethal amounts of CO, the amounts can quickly build to dangerous concentrations in closed spaces.
The American Red Cross further reports that of the annual CO fatalities, 200 are caused by room heaters, furnaces, water heaters, and other fuel-burning appliances. This is also why so many CO poisoning fatalities occur during power outages. People tend to bring their gas generators, camping stoves, heaters, and charcoal grills inside their homes. The trapped gas slowly builds to lethal levels with the homes’ inhabitants never realizing that they are being poisoned.
Cars represent another common point of origin for CO poisoning. When a vehicle’s engine is left running in a garage, it enables gas from the exhaust to fill the space at dangerous concentrations. If the garage is connected to the house, the deadly gas can spread inside and harm or kill whoever is there. This is a danger with keyless start cars, as many people leave their vehicles running without realizing it.
In its study, “Carbon Monoxide Poisoning—A Public Health Perspective,” the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that more than half of the poisoning deaths across many countries could be caused by CO. Unfortunately, this number is not known for certain. It is not uncommon for medical professionals to misdiagnose CO deaths, confusing its symptoms with those associated with the flu, food poisoning, and other illnesses.
If a loved one died as the result of CO poisoning, you might be entitled to pursue a wrongful death action and to collect damages. Our attorneys know that carbon monoxide poisoning can kill you and do not take it lightly. They investigate your case of CO poisoning, identify the at-fault party, establish their liability, and work to have them compensate you for your losses.
Call Newsome Melton today for a free case review and consultation: (888) 808-5977.