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Is carbon monoxide exposure still a risk in the summer?

The winter months are known for higher risks of exposure to the tasteless, odorless and colorless silent killer: carbon monoxide. If you're not careful, exposure could lead to accidental poisoning or death. While it is commonly associated with furnaces and warming a car up in a closed garage, cold weather is not the only time you may be vulnerable. There are ways you can be exposed during the warmer months. Activities that could cause these risks during the summer include:

Grills

Warm weather means gathering with family or friends outdoors. Barbeques and many other food options are cooked on the grill for everyone to enjoy. The danger arises after the cooking is finished. People sometimes take the coals from a charcoal grill into their garage. However, if the coals are not properly extinguished, they could reignite and emit carbon monoxide. If left in an enclosed area, such as a garage, you could unintentionally contaminate that area. Keeping used coals in an open space could help avoid that risk.

Cars and other motors stored in a garage

Poisoning from cars in the garage does not only happen in the winter. Leaving the car running in a closed garage, whether to warm it up or cool it down, could cause carbon monoxide to be trapped in the air. This also applies to lawnmowers and other items with gas motors. Leaving the motor running in a closed garage brings the same risks as a car engine as they both produce carbon monoxide.

Boats

Carbon monoxide risks can follow you out on the water and could have catastrophic results. Multiple deaths on boats from poisoning have been reported in the last few years. In 2015, a 15-year-old girl in Texas was in a drowning accident caused by carbon monoxide and earlier this July, two people in New York were found dead in a boat from poisoning. There are other unfortunate accounts of drownings and boat fatalities rooted in carbon monoxide from different states. Depending on the type of boat and its size, an idle or slow engine could cause excess carbon monoxide while generators with vents could allow the fumes to seep into a cabin or cockpit.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

Being aware of carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms could help prevent unnecessary illness or death. Symptoms often mimic a flu if the victim shows them at all. Some cases, the poisoning comes on with no warning. Symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness

Carbon monoxide is deadly and detecting it can be very difficult since it lacks in taste, smell and color. You can take preventative measures to help avoid risks of poisoning. While you may do everything you can to prevent it, it could still seep into the air through into your home, apartment, garage or boat. Knowing the signs of a victim could save your life or someone else's.

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