CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING

It was reported this week that the Center for Auto Safety has asked Ford Motor Company to recall all of its Explorer SUVs because of concerns about carbon monoxide poisoning.  While stating that its vehicles are safe, Ford has offered free inspections and repairs to deal with any potential problems.  But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating thousands of complaints about possible problems with exhaust getting into these vehicles and the Austin, Texas police department has sidelined over four hundred Explorers because of these concerns.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is not a new phenomenon.  Sometimes called the silent killer, carbon monoxide is a tasteless, odorless gas that can make you really sick or even kill you.  Carbon dioxide is created by the combustion of carbon based fuels.  All internal combustion engines and most gas burning appliances emit carbon dioxide.  While carbon dioxide occurs naturally in the atmosphere (green plants absorb carbon dioxide and convert it to oxygen through the process of photosynthesis) it has only been through the advent of relatively modern gas and coal burning devices that this lethal substance is created in sufficient quantities that it can hurt or kill.

A long time ago, this was even a bigger problem than it is today.  Burning coal creates carbon monoxide and as we all know, coal use has diminished in favor of clean energy.  And our understanding of how appliances, cars and other devices can generate carbon dioxide has improved.  In fact, today nearly all carbon monoxide poisoning events are avoidable.  Nevertheless, this potentially fatal accident still occurs.

Generators, electric heaters, fireplaces – all of these and other similar devices can expose people to carbon monoxide if not installed or used correctly.  Landlords, owners of buildings manufacturers and installers of products all have responsibility to insure the people are not exposed to carbon monoxide.  The effects of this can be deadly.  Unfortunately, the symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure and poisoning are sometimes not obvious until it is too late.  The symptoms include flu-like symptoms, headaches, a feeling of lightheadedness and nausea.  Unfortunately, often an exposure to carbon monoxide can cause permanent neurological damage.  Carbon monoxide exposure can cause heart problems, malaise, cognitive problems, suffocation, coma and death.

Everyone has available to them low cost, reliable smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.  This is a good idea.  Regrettably, even with modern technology cases of carbon monoxide still occur.  Often this is the result of the negligent design or manufacture of a product, or the negligent installation of a heater or hot water heater or the failure to properly maintain equipment or rental property.  When that happens, the attorneys at Jinks, Crow and Dickson are well prepared to help our clients evaluate these potential cases and pursue their legal rights.

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