Recent snowstorm provides stark reminders of CO poisoning dangers


As residents throughout the Northeastern U.S. attempt to dig out from the monster snowstorm that dropped several feet of snow on the region, the official death toll related to the storm continues to rise. According to ABC News, the storm-related death count currently stands at 49. From snow-shoveling induced heart attacks to motor vehicle accidents, the severity of this most-recent storm and the hazards related thereto, have shocked and horrified many.

Among those who perished because of the storm were at least five individuals who died of carbon monoxide poisoning. At least four CO-related deaths occurred when the tailpipes of their running vehicles were covered by snow. In two of the reported deaths, drivers succumbed to CO fumes after their vehicles were trapped by passing snow plows. At least one of the reported CO deaths was linked to the use of a generator which was being used in a power outage.

 

These tragic and preventable deaths are among the more than 500 CO-related fatalities that occur annually in the U.S. Storms and natural disasters that result in heavy snowfall and power outages often produce conditions where CO-related deaths are more likely to occur as individuals may become trapped in running vehicles or rely upon generators and gas ovens or grills for heating sources.

Carbon monoxide is an especially deadly gas because it has no smell or color and is therefore difficult to detect. Additionally, the symptoms of CO poisoning often mimic those of other less-serious health conditions and include nausea, dizziness, weakness, headache, trouble breathing, blurred vision and loss of consciousness.

Individuals who experience these types of symptoms are advised to turn off their vehicles or open windows and doors and get outside to fresh air. In cases where a landlord or snowplow company was somehow responsible for contributing to conditions that either led to or exacerbated problems related to CO poisoning, it’s wise to explore possible legal remedies.

Source: ABC News, “At Least 49 People Die as Result of Snowstorm That Hit East,” AP, Jan. 27, 2016

Mayo Clinic, “Carbon monoxide poisoning, “symptoms,” Jan. 26, 2016

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