Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Snowstorms and power outages present elevated risk for carbon monoxide poisoning

08.04.2014

More public safety education needed to decrease unintentional poisoning during and after heavy storms, according to new data published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine

While preventable, carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious and sometimes fatal condition. Large weather events, such as snowstorms and heavy storms that cause power outages, can lead to an increase in the number of reported carbon monoxide exposures.

Researchers from Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut explored the link between these major storms and the rise in carbon monoxide exposure cases. They found that portable generators were the most common source of carbon monoxide exposure after storms which resulted in power losses; car exhaust was the most frequent source of exposure after heavy snowstorms.

Their findings are published in the May issue of The American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

In 2011, 12,136 unintentional exposures were reported to U.S. Poison Control Centers. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas that can build up to dangerous levels in unventilated areas. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, nausea, and dizziness.

If left untreated, carbon monoxide exposure can lead to serious illness or even death. During and after severe winter weather, people are at an increased risk for exposure to carbon monoxide because of the use of alternative heat sources inside their homes and heating vents blocked by snow.

In this new study, investigators looked at data reported to the Connecticut Poison Control Center after two storms: a 2011 winter storm that resulted in widespread power loss and a large snowstorm in 2013. A total of 172 patient cases were identified after the power loss storm, while 34 cases were identified following the snowstorm.

Researchers found that most carbon monoxide exposures occurred within the first day of a snowstorm, and on the second and third days of a power loss storm. "These results indicate that the staffing patterns and call schedules of the medical providers involved in the treatment of carbon monoxide-poisoned patients may need to be adjusted accordingly, based on the type of storm expected," says lead investigator Kelly Johnson-Arbor, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine, Hartford Hospital.

During a power loss storm, the most common sources of carbon monoxide exposure are the indoor use of gas-powered generators, propane heaters and lanterns, and charcoal grills. "Adequate ventilation is a key component of carbon monoxide poisoning prevention," explains Dr. Johnson-Arbor. "Following multiple reports of carbon monoxide exposures and fatalities after power loss storms, there has been an increase in public health education regarding the importance of avoiding indoor use of generators and charcoal grills during a storm's aftermath."

Investigators discovered that snowstorms present a different set of dangers from carbon monoxide exposure. During and following a heavy snow, people are likely to be exposed to carbon monoxide in their vehicles as well as their homes. In dwellings, large snowdrifts can block heating vents, while vehicle tailpipes can become clogged with snow that causes carbon monoxide to leak back into the car.

"Lethal concentrations of carbon monoxide can form in the passenger compartment of a snow-obstructed vehicle, even when the vehicle's windows are opened 6 inches," acknowledges co-investigator Dadong Li, PhD, Department of Research Administration, Hartford Hospital. "It is therefore important to counsel the public to examine their vehicles after snowstorms to ensure that the exhaust area is cleared of snow, prior to starting the engine. In addition, people should be advised to avoid sitting in running automobiles during and after snowstorms, unless the exhaust area has been completely cleared of snow, regardless of whether the windows are opened."

Greater awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide exposure has prompted more homeowners to install carbon monoxide detectors, however, they are not required nationwide. "Increased reports of carbon monoxide poisoning can occur after both snowstorms and power loss storms," adds Dr. Johnson-Arbor. "Enhanced public education or local policy actions concerning the use of carbon monoxide detectors, particularly in the aftermath of storms, may be particularly beneficial in states where the use of these devices is not mandated by law."

Angela J. Beck | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.elsevier.com

Further reports about: Elsevier charcoal common detectors exposure heating large monoxide poisoning storms vehicles

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Organ-on-a-chip mimics heart's biomechanical properties
23.02.2017 | Vanderbilt University

nachricht Researchers identify cause of hereditary skeletal muscle disorder
22.02.2017 | Klinikum der Universität München

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>