Carbon monoxide or "CO" poisoning is the most common cause of death by poisoning in the U.S. , and older Americans are especially vulnerable to carbon monoxide poisoning because of their high frequency of pre-existing medical conditions, such as chronic heart disease, anemia, or respiratory problems, the Environmental Protection Agency warns.
Many of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to those of the flu. As a result, older Americans might not think CO poisoning could be the cause, the EPA points out. Symptoms could be the result of CO poisoning when:
• You feel better when you are away from your home.
• More than one person in the home gets sick at the same time (it usually takes several days for the flu to pass from person to person).
• Family members who are most affected spend the most time in the home.
• Symptoms occur or get worse shortly after turning on a fuel-burning device or running a vehicle in an attached garage.
• Indoor pets also appear ill, exhibiting symptoms such as drowsiness and lethargy (human flu viruses are not transmitted to pets).
To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, the EPA suggests remembering the acronym, "I CAN B:"
• Install CO alarms near sleeping areas.
• Check heating systems and fuel-burning appliances annually.
• Avoid the use of non-vented combustion appliances.
• Never burn fuels indoors except in devices such as stoves or furnaces made for safe use.
• Be attentive to possible symptoms of CO poisoning.
The Senior Connection is a column provided by the Clinton County Office for the Aging. For more information about services for senior citizens, contact their office at 135 Margaret St., Suite 105, Plattsburgh or call them at 565-4620.