A Guide to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Guide to Carbon Monoxide Poisoning (CO Poisoning)

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Dangers of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning While Camping

Camping - a favorite family past time and the vacation of choice for people of all ages - has its share of dangers. Aside from hazardous weather conditions and at times treacherous surrounding terrain, fuel-powered camping equipment can be potentially dangerous to your health. Carbon monoxide poisoning can occur and may even be fatal.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning while CampingWhat Is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is emitted when fuel, such as natural gas or propane, is burned. It is odorless and colorless, virtually impossible to detect. When an excess of CO is inhaled, a person can suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning, a predicament that can quickly lead to death. See more on carbon monoxide poisoning.

CO actually reduces the blood stream’s ability to hold oxygen. Low levels of oxygen in the body can make you faint and cause the bodily systems to stop functioning properly. In serious cases of carbon monoxide poisoning the body can shut down completely.

Camping usually involves a tent, camper or RV. When combustibles are used within these enclosed quarters without proper ventilation people in close proximity are at high risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Lanterns, space heaters, portable grills, gas burning appliances, and other fuel-powered equipment should only be lit and burnt outside.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Because the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning resemble those of the common cold or flu, they are often initially ignored. Immediate attention should be paid to someone who has been exposed to CO emission and displays the following signs and/or complaints:

  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • weakness or excessive sleepiness
  • nausea and/or vomiting
  • general confusion

The key is to respond quickly. Turn off the appliance and open doors and windows in order to ventilate the area thoroughly. Transport the victim immediately to a clinic, hospital, or medical doctor if you suspect that any of the above mentioned symptoms might be due to an exposure to carbon monoxide. Certain individuals are at a higher risk than others.

Who Is at Risk?
Carbon monoxide does not affect all people in the same way. Some age groups are more vulnerable, and individuals with certain conditions can be at higher risk than others.

Children and the elderly, as well as pregnant women, smokers and those with lung problems, and individuals suffering from anemia and other circulatory system problems are at high risk when exposed to CO. In such cases a faster response to CO inhalation is likely to occur and a smaller amount of CO will be sufficient to induce poisoning.

There are other important factors to keep in mind. When you are camping at high altitudes, the effects of carbon monoxide are heightened and consequently, more care is required. Also, when alcohol or drugs are ingested the negative effects of CO inhalation are intensified.

Anyone in a high risk category should be made aware of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, and also be well-informed on the ways of handling the situation if it occurs.

How to Avoid or Reduce the Risk
Adequate ventilation in your tent, camper, RV, and any other enclosed areas is important. When using gas burning units such as the portable stove in your RV, or gas lanterns in your tent, a conscious effort should be made to keep the door or windows open.

Camping in cold weather is especially dangerous for carbon monoxide poisoning because there is a frequent need for heating units and a strong tendency to stay inside due to the weather. Choosing other alternatives like electrical or battery-operated models is highly recommended.

There is pressure for manufacturers of fuel-powered camping equipment to be more proactive with regard to the potential health hazards of their products. Some are working with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to design models that produce less carbon monoxide. There is also a push for all units to distinctly display warning labels and consumer information.

However the best defense against the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is to educate the public on responsible use. Helping individuals to recognize the symptoms and know how to react can save many lives.

Enjoy your camping trip by being aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. Limit the risk in order to ensure that your family and friends are safe.


About the Author: Lily Armstrong is a freelance writer and is the head researcher and content manager for http://www.carbon-monoxide-poisoning.com/.



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