As winter weather reaches Georgia, more families will likely make use of carbon-based fuels to heat their homes and vehicles. These fuels include natural gas, gasoline, and oil used in gas fireplaces, automobiles, gas stoves, and generators. While these natural gases are convenient ways for families to stay warm this winter, they can also pose danger in the form of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Because carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless, and difficult to otherwise detect, it is often times termed the “Invisible Killer”. When carbon-based fuels are burned in an area where not enough oxygen is present, they can become deadly. The Journal of the American Medical Association estimates that 1,500 U.S. citizens die each year as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning. In addition to that number, 10,000 more seek medical care for carbon monoxide poisoning. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, nausea, weakness, dizziness, vomiting, confusion, shortness of breath, bluffed vision, and eventually loss of consciousness. If medical attention is not sought quickly enough, it can lead to death.
Fortunately, there are technologies available to Georgians that detect higher-than-normal levels of carbon monoxide before it can adversely affect a person. Carbon monoxide detectors, or CO detectors, are devices that are similar to smoke alarms. They can be placed in a home or business to recognize and alert when gas levels are too high. While there are a variety of types of CO detectors on the market today, each should be placed in a specific area of the home. The Consumer Product Safety Commission suggests locating a detector near sleeping areas so that it will wake you from sleep in the event of high gas levels. In addition, it is beneficial to locate additional detectors on every other level of a home or business. It is also important to note that placing carbon monoxide detectors above or beside fuel-burning objects such as ovens or fireplaces is not suggested because it may cause false alarms to occur. Also, avoid areas that are extra humid, such as bathrooms.
We have stressed the importance of operational smoke detectors and alarms in the past, but carbon monoxide detectors are not as commonly considered as a must-have in homes and businesses. We urge Georgians to take an extra step of precaution to protect yourselves and those around you with CO detectors. They are an inexpensive and harmless way to prevent unnecessary harm to your family.
Unfortunately, not all businesses and public locations employ the use of carbon monoxide detectors. An Applebee’s in New York City was recently evacuated after a chance-occurrence led to carbon monoxide detection. Local emergency medical technicians were inside the restaurant when their CO detectors began alerting them to high levels of poisonous gas. Upon closer inspection, a faulty water heater was to blame for the extremely high levels of carbon monoxide levels present in the restaurant.
In these types of instances, had someone been hurt due to the high levels of carbon monoxide in the restaurant, the water heater manufacturer or restaurant itself may have been held liable. If negligence was found in the manufacturing of the device, that company may have found themselves at-fault. If the restaurant employees had known about the faulty water heater and did nothing to correct the problem, they too could have been held at-fault. Only an experienced injury attorney will be able to determine the viability of bringing a legal claim for injuries in these types of situations. If you or a loved one have questions about a potential personal injury claim, contact Jones & Swanson today for a free consultation.