DEAR ABBY: You recently printed a letter that dealt with carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. According to the National Safety Council, more than 200 fatalities per year are attributable to carbon monoxide as a direct result of poorly or improperly vented organic fuel heaters. With just a little education, many of these deaths are entirely preventable.
As a member of the Publications Committee of the American Industrial Hygiene Association, may I call to your attention a pamphlet that may be of importance to your readers? The advice given to your readers was sound, but the pamphlet has more specific actions to take, including ways to tell if a dwelling might possibly have a carbon monoxide problem, as well as information on an important aspect of CO safety -- carbon monoxide detectors.
Interested or concerned readers may request a free copy of the brochure "Carbon Monoxide -- The Silent, Cold Weather Killer" from the American Industrial Hygiene Association at: AIHA Publications, 2700 Prosperity Ave., Suite 250, Fairfax, Va. 22031. (Please enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope.) Or, they may visit the Web site at www.aiha.org. This brochure is also available in Spanish. -- TIMOTHY H. RYAN, PH.D., ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY
DEAR DR. RYAN: Thank you for the informative booklet. I'm sharing the information with my readers. I was shocked to learn that each year, nearly 5,000 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms for CO poisoning.
What makes carbon monoxide so dangerous is the fact that it is odorless. Initial symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure are similar to the flu (but without the fever), including dizziness, headache, fatigue, nausea and irregular breathing. However, death from carbon monoxide can result without any symptoms -- the overexposed victim simply "falls asleep" and never regains consciousness.
Bottom line: No home should be without an Underwriters Laboratory (UL)-listed CO detector, and the packing instructions should be followed to the letter.