Rutgers expert discusses increased risk to carbon monoxide poison in winter, when traveling

<p>The New Jersey Poison Control Center is housed in the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, where Executive and Medical Director Diane Calello works.</p>

The New Jersey Poison Control Center is housed in the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, where Executive and Medical Director Diane Calello works.

With the recent hospitalization of 25 people due to carbon monoxide poisoning in Idaho, Rutgers experts have discussed how the risk for carbon monoxide poisoning has increased during the winter and when traveling, according to an article on Rutgers Today.

“Carbon monoxide detectors are the only way to detect this odorless, colorless, life-threatening gas,” said Diane Calello, executive and medical director of the New Jersey Poison Control Center at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School’s Department of Emergency Medicine, according to the article. “Unfortunately, laws requiring (carbon monoxide) detectors vary across accommodations like chain hotels, vacation rentals, bed and breakfasts in the (United States) and abroad.”

Gas appliances and heating systems are the primary sources of carbon monoxide, Calello said, according to the article. It can also be sourced from things such as heating and dryer vents, portable room heaters and portable gas generators.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning resemble that of the common cold and flu, she said, according to the article. This makes it more difficult to detect them during the winter.

Calello said that specific symptoms include headaches, sleepiness, fatigue, confusion and irritability when it comes to being exposed at a low level, according to the article. Nausea, vomiting, irregular heartbeat, impaired vision and coordination can occur as a result of high-level exposure.

Because carbon monoxide alarm regulations may vary from state to state, people should take precautions when traveling, according to the article.

Calello said that to reduce your risk, you should ask about carbon monoxide detector policies when making room reservations, according to the article. Bringing your own battery-operated travel carbon monoxide alarm when staying in hotels, apartments or people’s homes is another precaution you can take.

If you feel ill and suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, it is best to go outside and away from the source of the gas, according to the article. You should also call the local poison control center if you believe someone may have been exposed.

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