Breathing in carbon monoxide is highly dangerous and is the leading cause of poisoning death in the US. It can cause symptoms like headaches, confusion, weakness, vomiting, and chest pain. In more serious cases, it can lead to loss of consciousness or even be fatal.
Despite efforts to educate consumers on the risks and reduce the number of deaths caused by carbon monoxide poisoning, a recent report released by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has found that carbon monoxide fatalities are still on the rise.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible gas. Because it doesn’t have any smoke or smell it’s hard to detect and this means it continues to pose a risk to consumers, with the only preventative measure available being a working detector in public and private spaces.
The report found that in 2019, there were 250 deaths related to CO, which is much higher than any other year in the report, which started in 2009.
Engine-driven tools were found to be the most common cause of CO-related fatalities in the US and were responsible for 50% of deaths on average. Some of the other leading causes of CO poisoning were space heaters, pool heaters, grills and camp stoves, and ranges and ovens.
Of all types of devices, gas-powered generators came with the highest risks of fatal CO poisoning, with 89 fatalities in 2017 and accounting for 26% of carbon monoxide deaths. The second highest risk was caused by furnaces. Heating systems, in general, accounted for 30% of all deaths, and furnaces, in particular, were responsible for 10%.
How can consumers protect themselves?
Although these devices can be risky to consumers, they don’t need to avoid them altogether in order to be safe. Instead, the CPSC has advised that they take some additional safety precautions to make sure they are protected against the risks of carbon monoxide.
It’s essential that consumers have a carbon monoxide detector in their homes, and they should buy this from a reputable seller to avoid purchasing a fake or faulty product.
The agency has also reminded consumers to only use heaters for their primary purpose of heating, keep products clean and carry out the recommended maintenance, and to never use portable heat generators inside their homes.