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Carbon Monoxide poisonings

Severe storms - such as tornados and thunderstorms - often strike in Wisconsin during the summer months when temperatures are warmer. It's important to know the danger isn't over once the storm blows through. Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is the most common poison-related cause of hospitalization and death in the wake of severe storms.

It is called a "silent killer" because there are no odors and few symptoms that signal a problem. When people use generators improperly - too close to homes, in garages or outside bedroom windows - CO can seep in and sicken or even kill.

The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. High levels of CO inhalation can cause loss of consciousness and death. Unless suspected, CO poisoning can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms mimic other illnesses. People who are sleeping or intoxicated can die from CO poisoning before ever experiencing symptoms.

In 2012, Wisconsin Poison Center handled 297 cases of CO exposure. These exposure cases ran the gamut of CO alarm concerns to furnace malfunctions to suicide attempts.  

If you have questions about carbon monoxide or a suspected case, call Wisconsin Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Dial 9-1-1 immediately if someone:

  • Stops breathing
  • Collapses
  • Has a seizure
  • Has a life threatening emergency

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