Washington Ambulance Association Newsletter
Post Office Box 294, Washington Depot, CT  06794
In This Issue
Don't Fall Victim to Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Give Me Shelter

Connecticut Poison Control Center: Carbon Monoxide

Do You Have a Carbon Monoxide Detector in Your Home?

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Issue # 2November 2, 2011

This morning, The Hartford Courant reported that there have been seven storm-related deaths in Connecticut since the October snowstorm cut power to hundreds of thousands of Connecticut residents.  Three of those deaths appear to have been caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.  On Sunday night alone, the Connecticut Poison Control Center fielded over 30 calls about carbon monoxide poisoing.  Within the last few days, Washington Ambulance, working in close partnership with the Washington Volunteer Fire Department, has responded to several homes for suspected cases of carbon monoxide poisoning.  


In the aftermath of the October snowstorm, Connecticut has a current public health emergency of carbon monoxide poisoning.  The good news is, you can protect yourself from becoming a victim of this silent killer.         

Don't Fall Victim to Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

What is Carbon Monoxide? 


Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible, odorless gas that is a byproduct of burning organic fuels.  


What is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?


Carbon monoxide poisoning happens when fuel is burned improperly and carbon monoxide gases are released in the home.  You ingest carbon monoxide through the simple act of breathing.  After carbon monoxide has entered the body through your lungs, it hampers your blood from transporting oxygen through your body. 


The earliest symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headaches and nausea.  These symptoms are followed by unclear thinking, shortness of breath, weakness, and loss of muscle control.  Severe symptoms include convulsions, unconsciousness, and death.


Every year, unintentional CO exposure accounts for an estimated 15,000 emergency room visits and 500 unintentional deaths.    


How to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning


The Connecticut Poison Control Center notes that you can prevent carbon monoxide poisonings by doing the following:

  • Hire a professional to install your heating
  • Clean the chimney and heating equipment each winter before using it
  • Inspect the ventilation of all appliances
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors in your home and garage
  • Check your vehicle regularly
  • Never leave your car running in the garage
  • Never sleep inside a running car
  • Repair your lawn mower and other gas or oil powered equipment in the fresh air

We would add to this list:  NEVER run a generator indoors, and NEVER use outdoor appliances (like kerosene heaters and grills) indoors. 


What To Do If You Think You May Have CO Poisoning


If your CO detector goes off, or if you have symptoms that lead you to suspect that you or your family could have been exposed to carbon monoxide, you should:

  • Evacuate everyone to fresh air
  • Call 911

When carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected, Washington Fire and Ambulance will respond in tandem.  The Fire Department will be able to measure the level of carbon monoxide in your home and to begin ventilation of your home.  Washington Ambulance personnel will evaluate your symptoms, and treat and transport you as appropriate, depending on the severity of your symptoms. 


The treatment for carbon monoxide poisoning depends on the severity of the case.  The most important and immediate treatment is to remove yourself from the area where gas may be present.  In mild cases, your body may recover without further interventions.  Patients with more serious exposure and symptoms will be given oxygen and brought to the hospital for further evaluation and treatment.  The most severe cases will likely be treated in specialized hyperbaric chambers.  


Give Me Shelter

All The Creature Comforts

Washington's Town Hall (860-868-2259) is providing warm food and warm shelter for town residents.  Breakfast is served from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., lunch from noon to 1 p.m., and dinner from 5-6 p.m.  Overnight guests will be issued a fresh cot, blanket, and pillow combination.  You are very welcome to take advantage of these services in any way that works for you.  Come to charge your electronics, to eat, to socialize, or to sleep. 

Cleanliness is Next to Godliness    

The Shepaug Valley High School is opening its facilities for community residents who would like to take hot showers.  Hours will be 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. today (Wednesday, November 1st), and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday and Friday.  Additionally, Devereux Glenholme School is opening its shower facilities between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.; Devereux is reserving its shower capacity for senior citizens and those with medical needs. 
Hit the Road, Jack

If you are leaving your home to go to someplace warmer, and if you have family members who are likely to call and request the police and ambulance to do a "wellness check", then please call the Fire House (860-868-0325) to let us know your plans.  This will save all concerned both time and worry.    
The Volunteers of Washington Ambulance Association
Susie Wallace-Wyant, Chief