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Medical professionals with the Paul Silverstein Burn Center at INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center are reporting an alarming trend. They are seeing a dramatic increase of carbon monoxide poisoning cases since the ice storm hit on Monday.

INTEGRIS Paul Silverstein Burn Center

INTEGRIS Health Warns of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Caused by Generator Misuse

Carbon Monoxide GraphicMedical professionals with the Paul Silverstein Burn Center at INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center are reporting an alarming trend. They are seeing a dramatic increase of carbon monoxide poisoning cases since the ice storm hit on Monday. 

Christopher Lentz, M.D., the medical director of the INTEGRIS Burn Center says the majority of these illnesses are the result of generator misuse. “Most of the cases we are seeing are caused by people putting generators in unsafe areas like inside their house or in their garage. These machines need to be placed outside away from any entry to the home.”

The same can be said for outdoor grills, as Lentz says people are bringing those inside as well for heat.  “The irony of both of these scenarios is while they are attempting to do something that is helpful, they are actually doing something that could be potentially life-threatening for the entire family.”

Carbon monoxide incidents are typical during colder weather but Lentz fears the prolonged power outages many are still experiencing could intensify the risk. “That’s why we’re trying to raise awareness and alert the public that this is a very real danger,” says Lentz. “We are seeing multiple patients a day in our emergency room and those are just the people who thankfully were discovered by someone else or who recognized what was happening in time to get help. Unfortunately there are others who never make it to the hospital.”

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas produced by burning gasoline, wood, propane, charcoal or other fuel.

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. This can lead to serious tissue damage, or even death.

The signs and symptoms to look out for include:

  • Dull headache
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of consciousness

The warning signs of carbon monoxide poisoning can be subtle. People may have irreversible brain damage or even die before anyone realizes there's a problem. If you think you or someone you're with may have carbon monoxide poisoning, get into fresh air and seek medical care immediately. 

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