Carbon Monoxide Poisoning at Malls and Public Places

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A story in recent news reported a carbon monoxide leak at a mall that left the manager of one business dead, and several others on the way to the hospital. Emergency crews even reported feeling dizzy and nauseated as they responded to the scene. The manager was found in the heater room, downstairs from where the restaurant was located—presumably trying to determine the cause that was making so many people ill. Carbon monoxide detectors are not mandatory in all businesses in all states. How do you know that your favorite store or restaurant is taking the necessary precautions to ensure your safety when you are there?

Carbon monoxide kills approximately 170 people a year and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, can be prevented if carbon monoxide detectors are installed, maintained and checked for battery usage. Yet, many businesses and residences fail to install or replace the carbon monoxide detectors until an event happens too late in the game. Have you installed a carbon monoxide detector in your home and place of work? Have you replaced the batteries recently? In many states the local fire and emergency responders will make courtesy calls and even provide a smoke detector or carbon monoxide detector if one is not installed in the home where they respond. Carbon monoxide poisoning happens when there are leaks in pipes or vents from electric generators, furnaces and heaters. Sometimes wood burning stove that are not properly ventilated can also cause the fumes to emit fatal gases. Carbon monoxide’s odorless and colorless fumes and smell make this gas difficult to detect. That is why it is imperative to install a detector and keep it maintained. What are some symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

On the short-term side, immediate symptoms include nausea, dizziness and flu-like symptoms. Over the long-term, gradual exposure can be seen in body toxicity, which later leads to advanced and prolonged confusion, disorientation, loss of memory and even depression. The owner of the restaurant in the case above was smart in that he detected something was wrong and needed to investigate; sadly, his decision was fatal. What should you do if you feel you have the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

  • Call 9-1-1 and alert the manager of the business, or the person in charge of the venue.
  • Remove yourself from the area, even if something is not immediately detected by authorities.
  • Ask for oxygen if you need it.

While it’s difficult to know whether restaurants, stores and other businesses are taking the right precautions, knowing the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may save you. If you feel any of the symptoms while shopping, eating, or working at your place of employment, report your symptoms to authorities and the manager. If you have suffered carbon monoxide poisoning, or know someone who has suffered ill effects or died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning, your first step is to enlist the advice of an attorney who can help you settle your case when dealing with multiple entities.