The idea of a child suffering from Carbon Monoxide poisoning is unthinkable, isn’t it? Far too extreme a thing to happen to your own children. Think again. It is responsible for more deaths in children than you would think.
In 2016, it estimated that 31% of people hospitalized for accidental Carbon Monoxide poisoning were aged 14 and under. It is particularly dangerous for babies, as it takes a smaller amount to cause damage and health problems. Also, extra care should be taken in children with respiratory issues like asthma, for the same reasons.
Because it is a colorless, odorless, and commonplace in a vehicle (i.e., from the exhaust pipe), it is easy to breathe in too much – especially when children don’t understand the risks. An excessive intake of this gas causes it to replace the oxygen in the bloodstream, which does no good to the important parts of your body. Brain, heart, and lungs, to name a few.
But it’s not all doom and gloom here – there are some pointers – a few simple steps you can take to protect your children, plus symptoms and advice.
Make sure you schedule and keep regular check-up and maintenance appointments on your vehicle’s exhaust system. It will alert you to any leaks or faults that could cause Carbon Monoxide to enter the vehicle. Also clean the pipes regularly. If there is a blockage at all, the gas can leak into the passenger areas. As much risk for adults as it is for children.
TIMING AND LOCATION
Firstly, do not leave a vehicle running idle in an enclosed space – this includes your garage, with or without the door open. It neither prevents the gas from entering the vehicle nor reduces the risk of it entering the house.
Don’t put your child in a vehicle while it is warming up to clear ice or snow. It is only increasing the likelihood of their breathing in the Carbon Monoxide coming from the exhaust system while they wait.
Instill a little awareness in your children until they are old enough to know better. That is to say, if you park in the garage and the garage is attached to the house, don’t let them play in there.
Especially if they end up playing behind a running vehicle. Apart from the obvious dangers this presents, they may also risk breathing in the exhaust fumes.
With something like a health issue, it helps to know what to look out for regarding symptoms. If your child is or has been exhibiting any combination of these symptoms, it may be Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the child dizzy and acting confused?
- Is the child complaining of nausea or vomiting?
- Is the child complaining of a headache(s)?
- Is the child short of breath?
If the answer is yes to two or more of these, consider the possibility they may have Carbon Monoxide poisoning.
The advice given by health experts is to move the affected person (these rules should apply to adults as well as children) to an open area with fresh air immediately. If the symptoms are severe; call 911 right away.
Carbon Monoxide can come from more than just the car – several household appliances give out the fumes so, if you don’t have one already, have a Carbon Monoxide detector installed in your house. If this is the root of the problem when a member of your household suffers from the poisoning. Consult with your local fire department before entering your house again. They will be able to advise on when it is safe.