Keep Your Child Safe from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

November 6th, 2007

It is odorless, colorless, tasteless. This silent killer, without a sound, can kill your sleeping child. It is called the “unseen enemy.” This chemical gas, carbon monoxide, is produced when fuel such as kerosene, charcoal, oil, wood, or natural gas is burned. Today, many families have gas appliances in their homes as well as recreational vehicles that burn fuel. Many families also have diesel or gas powered generators used in electrical emergencies. These too, if not monitored carefully, can be dangerous and produce a toxic level of carbon monoxide. With more and more parents becoming aware of this potential danger, extra measures of safety are being taken to make sure that children are protected from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Why is Carbon Monoxide Dangerous?

Oxygen is carried by red blood cells to various parts of the body. At a high level, carbon monoxide interferes in this process, bonding to the red blood cells and blocking oxygen from reaching the delicate tissues of the body. Red blood cells actually pick up carbon monoxide faster than oxygen. Being exposed to higher levels of carbon monoxide inhibits the body’s ability to get the oxygen it needs. Internal tissue damage can occur and, at toxic levels, even death. All of this can happen in a very short time. Sleeping children and adults seem to absorb carbon monoxide faster, and when you are asleep, symptoms are not readily apparent. Parents need to be aware of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and how to keep their child safe from its deadly effects.

Recreational activities can be killer culprits in carbon monoxide poisoning. Grilling and boating can be especially dangerous if preventative safety measures are not in force. When firing up the grill be sure to do it outside in a well ventilated area. Grilling in cabins and/or tents is a fire hazard and could also cause a build up of carbon monoxide. Matches need to be controlled as well so that little children don’t wind up playing with them.

The danger of carbon monoxide poising while boating comes largely from the boat’s gasoline powered engine. Houseboats with onboard electric powered generators also pose a threat. Generators that vent toward the rear of the boat present a significant danger to those swimming on the swim deck, or near the rear swim platform. Carbon monoxide tends to accumulate just above the water and near the rear platform. It can fill the air space beneath the stern deck and reach toxic levels in minutes. Carbon monoxide can also build up around any exhaust vents inside or outside the boat.

Read this family safety article with help on symptoms, treatment, and monitors at Childn’Parent.

By:  Debby Hoffer

Entry Filed under: Child Safety

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