Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Awareness

This post is an excerpt from New Mexico Department of Health‘s news release from February 7, 2024: NM records 89 emergency visits and one fatality due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

The New Mexico Department of Health (DOH) is alerting the public to an increase in carbon monoxide poisoning cases as temperatures decline, and snowfall in northern and central mountains is occurring. Hospital emergency departments have observed a rise in carbon monoxide-related visits since fall 2023, demanding urgent attention and heightened awareness.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a highly toxic gas that a person cannot see, smell, or taste. It is found in combustion fumes, such as those produced by gas heaters, small gasoline engines, stoves, generators, lanterns, and gas ranges or by burning charcoal and wood.   

Who is At-Risk?

At-risk populations, including infants, pregnant women, the elderly, and individuals with chronic heart disease, anemia, or respiratory illness, and those working with or around combustion engines, face elevated dangers. Recognizing symptoms such as headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and an altered mental status is crucial. Immediate medical attention is imperative, as survivors may develop long-term neurological problems.   

What can you do to prevent Carbon Monoxide exposure?

  • Annual servicing of heating systems, water heaters, and gas, oil, or coal-burning appliances by qualified technicians. 
  • Installation of CO detectors in homes, businesses, RVs, cabins, or barns, with bi-annual battery replacements. 
  • Strict avoidance of using generators, charcoal grills, camp stoves, or other fuel-burning devices indoors or near open windows. 
  • Never running automobiles inside attached garages, even with doors open. 
  • Avoiding heating homes with gas ovens and running gasoline-powered engines at least 20 feet from windows, doors, or vents.

Additional Guidance

For additional guidance, visit the NMDOH Environmental Public Health Tracking Program page on carbon monoxide poisoning, refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s page for additional prevention tips or contact the New Mexico Poison and Drug Information Center at 1-800-222-1222. 

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a notifiable condition in the state of New Mexico. Hospitals, clinics, practitioners, and first responders should immediately report any suspected carbon monoxide poisoning by calling the DOH Helpline at 1-833-796-8773.

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