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Director of Communications

(401) 831-7700 x101
[email protected]

Thursday, January 23, 2003
Red Cross Warns of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning -- Prolonged Cold Snap Sparks Concern about Heating Sources

American Red Cross of Rhode Island CLICK HERE for Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips

With the prolonged cold snap this week, the American Red Cross of Rhode Island is trying to raise awareness about a colorless, practically odorless gas that could kill families trying to stay warm.

The culprit is carbon monoxide poisoning, and according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, every year over 200 people in the United States die from carbon monoxide (known by the chemical symbol CO) produced by fuel-burning appliances (furnaces, ranges, water heaters, room heaters). Others die from CO produced while burning charcoal inside a home, garage, vehicle or tent. Still others die from CO produced by cars left running in attached garages. Several thousand people go to hospital emergency rooms each year for treatment for CO poisoning.

"When frigid temperatures continue for days like this, our biggest concern is that desperate people will turn to unsafe methods of staying warm, like opening a kitchen stove or running a car in a closed garage," Nick Logothets, Director of Emergency Services for the American Red Cross of Rhode Island, said. "However, carbon monoxide poisoning can result if there is a problem with a heating source, like a fireplace or furnace, as well."

Logothets says the Red Cross assisted three families this past Sunday after a boiler leaked carbon monoxide into a triple-decker home at 37 Home Avenue in Providence. Thirteen people were evacuated and taken to area hospitals after becoming ill. The Red Cross provided shelter and food for the families upon their release.

Initial symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to the flu (but without the fever). They include:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

The American Red Cross recommends Rhode Islanders install a CO detector/alarm in their homes and recreational vehicles. For a complete listing of tips on purchasing a detector and on ways to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, visit or call 1-800-842-1122, the Rhode Island Red Cross toll-free line.

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