Carbon Monoxide, the Silent Killer.
The most common cause of poisoning in the United States.
To catch a silent killer that often strikes in winter, a growing number of states are requiring homes to install carbon monoxide (CO) alarmas. Currently 13 States DO NOT require CO alarms including Indiana and Arizona. Carbon monoxide can seep into a home without residents seeing or smelling anything when fuel-burning devices such as gas stoves, furnaces, fireplaces and generators are improperly used or when cars are left running in an enclosed area. Exposure symptoms may include headache, fatigue, nausea and dizziness and can result in death or disability.
According to Public Health Rep. 2010 May-Jun;125(3):423-32:
- Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is preventable, yet it remains one of the most common causes of poisoning in the U.S.
- In the U.S., 2,631 UNFR CO deaths occurred from 1999 to 2004, an average of 439 deaths annually.
- In 2007, there were 21,304 (71 per one million population) ED visits and 2,302 (eight per one million population) hospitalizations for confirmed cases of CO poisoning.
- In 2009, 552 patients received HBOT, and from 2000 to 2009, 68,316 UNFR CO exposures were reported to poison centers.
- Most nonfatal poisonings were among children (<18 years of age) and females; hospitalizations and deaths occurred more frequently among males and elderly people (>65 years of age).
- More poisonings occurred during winter months and in the Midwest and Northeast.
- In 2007, more than 230,000 ED visits (772 visits/million) and more than 22,000 hospitalizations (75 stays/million) were related to UNFR CO poisoning. Of these, 21,304 ED visits (71 visits/million) and 2302 hospitalizations (8 stays/million) were confirmed cases of UNFR CO poisoning. Among the confirmed cases, the highest ED visit rates were among persons aged 0 to 17 years (76 visits/million) and 18 to 44 years (87 visits/million); the highest hospitalization rate was among persons aged 85 years or older (18 stays/million).
- Women visited EDs more frequently than men, but men were more likely to be hospitalized. Patients residing in a nonmetropolitan area and in the northeast and Midwest regions of the country had higher ED visit and hospitalization rates. Carbon monoxide exposures occurred mostly (>60%) at home.
- The hospitalization cost for CO Poisonings was more than $26 million.
We are pleased to report that since our petition and CO outreach began Arizona passed a statute in 2013. As of 2015 all states, with the exception of Indiana, Kansas and Nevada now require CO alarms in all homes and some require both smoke alarms and CO alarms.
Carbon Monoxide alarm laws are still greatly needed in states where there are no statutes, as it is impossible to detect carbon monoxide without a CO alarm. Most alarms cost $15 to $20 and need to be replaced every five years. It takes each one of us to make change possible, so please sign the LOK on-line petition or write your Senator to help us change the laws and keep you and your loved ones safe.
In the mean time, install a life saving carbon monoxide alarm in your home and request your schools and other places you frequent like churches, stores, etc. to take action and keep you safe. Join our grassroots effort and share this message with everyone you know and love.