Local News

Doctors warn it's carbon monoxide season, understand the risks

Posted 5:15 p.m. Tuesday
Updated 6:39 p.m. Tuesday

Because of an increase in generator and indoor heating use, doctors warn this is the season for carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide poisoning sent 16 people from Salisbury to the hospital last week. Several of them were treated at Duke University Hospital.

Duke University Hospital is the only place in the state where a person can get treatment in a hyperbaric chamber 24-hours a day, 365 days a year.

“Our patients are treated here,” Dr. Jake Freiberger said. “They’re seated in these chairs, and they wear a hood over their head where we put in 100 percent oxygen.”

Freiberger said the chamber is where several people from Salisbury were rushed last week after suffering carbon monoxide poisoning. in the same house. Dr. Richard Moon treated the patients.

“They were in a house where there was a gasoline-powered generator,” Moon said. “And all of the ones that we treated were very severely affected. A couple of them had lost consciousness. They all had difficulty walking.”

Doctors explained that the hyperbaric chamber works for treating carbon monoxide poisoning because it washes out carbon monoxide from the body and replaces it with oxygen.

“It could’ve been fatal,” Moon said. “If they’d been in the house another half hour to hour, I would bet they would probably all have died.”

While this center is one-of-a-kind in the state, registered nurse Frank Turcotte says prevention is still much easier than treatment.

“Having any type of monitor in the house is a very important thing,” Turcotte said. “I don’t think it’s been taken as serious as it should be.”

It’s important to understand what kinds of equipment are risks.

“Generators should be outside, run in with electrical cords to the house,” Turcotte said. “Gas grills should be outside, well-ventilated area. Not in the garage.”

Symptoms of carbon monoxide include dizziness and feeling light-headed. Doctors warn that not getting treatment quickly enough can result in long-term effects to your brain such as memory loss or death.

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