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A closer look at carbon monoxide poisoning
December 28th, 2010
03:22 PM ET

A closer look at carbon monoxide poisoning

Officials in Hialeah, Florida, are conducting autopsies on the bodies of five teenagers, who apparently died from carbon monoxide poisoning inside of their suburban Miami motel room. They had left a car running in a closed garage under their room after they had problems starting it earlier.

Sadly, around this time of year, we often hear about people getting sick and dying from carbon monoxide poisoning.  This tragedy in Florida is a good reminder of the importance of knowing the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

According to the Mayo Clinic, you can't see, smell or taste the gas. Carbon monoxide poisoning happens when wood-burning stoves, furnaces and charcoal grills are broken or when they are used in confined spaces.  According to the American Lung Association, 450 die each year and 50,000 people are rushed to the emergency room because of carbon monoxide poisoning. 

What makes carbon monoxide poisoning so dangerous is that people can get very ill before they realize something is wrong. There are a few warning signs to look for including a dull headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion and chest pain. If you suspect you've been exposed to carbon monoxide, get fresh air as quickly as possible and call 911. 

So what can you do to protect your family?  The American Lung Association suggests making sure appliances are fully vented. Also never leave a car or mower running inside of a garage that is closed.  But the most important thing you can do is install carbon monoxide detectors. The best place to put them are near bedrooms.


soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Julie Labrouste

    "Safety from carbon monoxide poisoning" = Don't be an IDIOT

    December 28, 2010 at 17:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Mike Price

    Yes, Idiot is a great term for those 5 kids who were innocently killed. What a tool, maybe don't comment on any stories ever again without thinking about what you've just typed.

    December 28, 2010 at 17:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • StayAtHome

      Well said.

      December 28, 2010 at 23:22 | Report abuse |
    • Julie Labrouste

      4 innocent kids were killed by an IDIOT.

      December 29, 2010 at 09:41 | Report abuse |
  3. tgrd

    How very sad that their lives were cut short and their families left to grieve.

    I suspect that it was a suicide pact. I think they knew exactly what they were doing when they left the door open from the garage below. How could anyone make it to 19 yrs old without knowing this is a common method of suicide and 2 of these guys were 19. Since they weren't drinking or doing drugs they would have known better than to leave that door open with the car running like that.

    I believe that there is much more to this story but I respect the sources for not telling all for the sake of the boy's families.

    December 28, 2010 at 18:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Amanda

    It's insidious how carbon monoxide can so quickly build up. Even high-efficiency cars, kerosene heaters, and other such air-breathing machines in a confined place will use up most of the oxygen, and when that happens, combustion becomes more incomplete resulting in less CO2 and more CO. Because of this, it doesn't matter what kind of car or fossil-fuel heater you have, in a confined space, it will kill you.

    December 28, 2010 at 18:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bill

      Your so right! I bought a Life Protector it is a CO detector that opens the garage door when it detects CO every home should have one.

      February 16, 2011 at 20:19 | Report abuse |
  5. Amy

    I don't think they did it on purpose, tgrd. If they had, they probably would have stayed IN the garage with the vehicle. Who would think that leaving a car running in a garage for a while would cause something like that? Most people wouldn't, especially teenagers.

    December 28, 2010 at 18:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bazoing

      Yes, you are thinking clearly. The teenage years are very dangerous. It takes a lot more than 18 or even 20 years to really get enough experience to avoid the many dangers like this. This incident is a horrible accident.

      December 28, 2010 at 22:54 | Report abuse |
  6. cristian

    I agree with tgrd, this seems like a suicide pact. Amy, there have been plenty of family suicides with the inside door to the garage left open at night in order for the carbon monoxide to seep in while people slept. Folks knew what they were doing – God Bless, boys. RIP>

    December 28, 2010 at 20:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Jack Howitzer

    http://67.42.80.195

    CO is a sneaky killer. You will be out before you realize there's a strange odor.

    December 28, 2010 at 21:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Lee

    Carbon Monoxide poisoning is a serious issuse and it is preventable. For more information contact your poison center at 1-800-222-1222 or visit the American Association of Poison Control Centers website at http://www.aapcc.org.

    December 29, 2010 at 09:36 | Report abuse | Reply
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    December 29, 2010 at 09:45 | Report abuse | Reply
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    We should always be careful of our actions as they can be cause for other people's troubles or ours as well. Installing CO detectors and other security systems is a meager cost in exchange for safety and security.

    January 15, 2011 at 02:16 | Report abuse | Reply
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    We should always be careful of our actions as they can be cause for other people's troubles or ours as well. Installing CO detectors and other security systems such as a wireless house alarm is a meager cost in exchange for safety and security.

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.