You’ve probably heard of carbon monoxide poisoning at some point in your life. You at least know enough to understand that it’s dangerous, but do you know where it comes from or how to prevent it from harming you, your family or your pets?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 430 people die and 50,000 visit the emergency room every year due to accidental exposure to carbon monoxide. Certain appliances that you may be using in your home have the ability to produce deadly carbon monoxide, especially if they malfunction.
Where does carbon monoxide come from?
Carbon monoxide comes from different types of fuel found in household products. It’s a silent killer because it’s a gas that has no color, odor, or smell, making it very hard to detect without the proper knowledge and tools. So how do you know if you’re potentially at risk for being poisoned?
Using any of these fuel-sourced products in your home places you at risk:
- Kerosene heaters
- Vehicles “warmed up” in garages
- Gas ranges
- Portable generators
- Charcoal or wood burning grills or fireplaces
Keyless ignition deaths
Something that isn’t yet widely common knowledge is the fact that vehicles with keyless ignitions have caused death and illness to vehicle owners. These automobiles run quietly, and drivers may be incorrectly under the impression that their engine has turned off, when it’s actually still running. There are no warning indicators or auto-shut offs that come with these vehicles to date, and if you park your car in an enclosed garage while it unknowingly runs for hours, your home can easily become filled with carbon monoxide.
All of these products have the potential to contain defects that could put you at risk. For instance, failure to include usage instructions that contain a warning that a potential carbon monoxide hazard exists can result in harm to the consumer or anyone within reach of the poisonous gas.
What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?
If you’re awake and alert, you may experience noticeable symptoms that can mimic other ailments. Don’t write off the signs or assume that it’s something minor. Doing so can cost you your life. Additionally, if you’re exhausted or you’ve imbibed, you may not even have the chance to feel the warning signals coming on.
Pay close attention to feelings of:
- Chest pain
If you have any of these symptoms, immediately open the windows in your home or vehicle to let in fresh air and help the carbon monoxide dissipate. Next, go outside and call 911 to have emergency services dispatched. You’ll want to be checked for poisoning, locate the source of the carbon monoxide leak and allow your home to air out before you can safely return.
How do I protect my family from carbon monoxide?
There are proactive steps that you can take to protect yourself, your family, or visiting friends from a trip to the emergency room or worse.
- Purchase a battery-powered or battery back-up carbon monoxide detector. You should install one detector on each level of your home and in any enclosed, attached areas such as a garage. Also, test the detector each month and change the batteries every six months.
- Schedule annual professional maintenance of all major appliances and household systems such as HVAC units, water heaters, and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances.
- Ensure that vents and fireplace flues are open and clear of
- Check to be sure your vehicle engine is completely off before closing the garage door to be sure carbon monoxide doesn’t get trapped.
- Never operate a motor vehicle, generator, pressure washer, or other gas-powered engine more than 20 feet from an open window or ventilation source to prevent fumes from building up in enclosed spaces.
- Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside a home, tent, or camper. Aside from posing a fire hazard that could cause burn injuries, these devices can quickly create a buildup of carbon monoxide.
- Any appliance or device that uses a gas powered engine should never be operated in a basement, or other enclosed structure, even with open windows or doors. They can produce too much gas to adequately disburse and use safely.
Should someone become sick or die, a product liability case may not be the only avenue to pursue. Depending upon the circumstances, a wrongful death claim may also be appropriate.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can easily end in avoidable tragedy if you aren’t careful to take preventative measures. Just because you do take those steps does not negate the liability of anyone who contributed to causing a dangerous carbon monoxide leak that injured you or a family member.
Schedule your free case evaluation with the dedicated Atlanta carbon monoxide product liability attorneys at Harris Lowry Manton LLP today. Call our Atlanta office at 404-998-8847, our Savannah office at 912-417-3774, or we invite you to reach out to us through our contact page to tell us your story.
One of the nation’s top trial attorneys, Jeff Harris is an award-winning litigator who handles high-profile, complex cases across a wide variety of practice areas. He excels at securing justice for clients who have been seriously injured or killed, holding responsible parties accountable for their actions as well as their negligence.
Read more about Jeffrey R. Harris here.