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Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Risks Rise During Colder Seasons

With autumn officially here—some people already have started to use heaters—our products liability lawyers want to remind our readers of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. While this gas-related illness can happen during anytime of the year, the risks do go up in cold weather, when many consumers look to their space heater, fireplace, or gas furnace for warmth.

It is important that such warming devices are working properly and free from any safety defects that could cause a deadly CO poisoning leak or tragic consequences may result. However, heating devices such as gas ranges, wood burning stoves, fireplaces, and heaters are not the only products that can malfunction and cause a carbon monoxide leak. Exhaust from motor vehicles, gas dryers, refrigerators, snow blowers, lawnmowers, propane/gas lanterns, and other consumer items also can be sources of this type of gas poisoning.

Carbon Monoxide Facts
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that every year, about 400 people are killed and another 4,000 are hospitalized for CO poisoning while about 20,000 people get sick enough from exposure to this gas to require a trip to a hospital emergency room. Unborn babies, infants, kids, the elderly, and those with anemia, respiratory conditions, heart disease, and other chronic health issues are most at risk of CO poisoning. Some victims who are lucky enough to survive this degree of exposure to carbon monoxide may be left with permanent brain damage or other disabilities.

Known as “the silent killer,” people cannot see, smell, or taste carbon monoxide, which means many victims don’t even know that they have been exposed. Symptoms may include headaches, vomiting, nausea, dizziness, depression, fatigue, anxiety, mood change, loss of consciousness, and even death.

Possible liable parties: the manufactures, sellers, or distributors of a defective product, a maintenance or installation company that did an inadequate job of installing, fixing, or inspecting an appliance or a heating unit, a gas company that did not properly check for or fix possible carbon monoxide safety issues, negligent landlords, the owner of a building/house where a CO leak happened, a builder that designed/constructed a structure with exhaust problems or installed a malfunctioning appliance/or heating unit, and others.

However, carbon monoxide deaths don’t just happen in buildings and houses. Just this year, the family of Kathryn Over filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the US army after she died from CO poisoning while in a rented camper. The 27-year-old’s family contends that employees at Gear-to-Go in Fort Campbell failed to make sure that the RV’s CO detector was working properly, so that Over and the others she was with rented a camper that had a detector with no batteries.

Over, her husband, and three other people died in their sleep. According to medical examiner’s report, the five of them had extremely high levels of carbon monoxide in their blood. Her family wants $124 million in damages.

Contact our product defect lawyers to find out if you have grounds for filing a CO poisoning case. The Gilbert Law Group® represents clients throughout the US.

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