SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO)– Carbon monoxide is a colorless, poisonous gas that has no smell or taste. Breathing it in can cause you to become sick and at certain levels can be fatal. It is produced by burning gasoline, propane, charcoal or other fuel.
According to Mayo Clinic, carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when carbon monoxide builds up in your bloodstream. When too much carbon monoxide is in the air, your body replaces the oxygen in your red blood cells with carbon monoxide.
Carbon monoxide can accumulate to dangerous levels when there are improperly ventilated appliances and engines, especially in a tightly sealed or enclosed space.
According to the CDC, at least 430 people in the U.S. die each year and around 50,000 people visit the emergency department due to accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms are similar to symptoms of the flu. The CDC says the most common carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. People who are asleep or who are intoxicated can die from carbon monoxide positioning before even experiencing the symptoms.
Mayo Clinic says exposure to carbon monoxide can be particularly dangerous for unborn babies, children, older adults, people with chronic heart disease and those who experience unconsciousness because of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide can lead to several complications, depending on the degree and length of exposure. Some of these include permanent brain damage, heart damage that may lead to life-threatening cardiac complications, miscarriage or death.
The warning signs of carbon monoxide poisoning can be subtle, but the condition is a life-threatening medical emergency. If you think you or someone you’re with may have carbon monoxide poisoning, get outside to fresh air and seek emergency medical care.