Automobile Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Danger in Winter Storms

ATLANTA--The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that a significant hazard of unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning presents with each winter storm as a result of snow-blocked vehicle exhaust systems.

In a two day period January 8-9, 1996, 22 cases of carbon monoxide poisoning were reported. These occurred during a major blizzard in the northeastern United States.

500 deaths occur annually with seasonal increases during winter. Carbon monoxide has no taste, odor or color and, therefore, goes undetected while poisoning the ability of the victim's blood to carry oxygen.

When the end of the exhaust pipe is obstructed by snow, carbon monoxide can leak from cracks in the exhaust system, through the floorboard of the vehicle potentially resulting in death from inhalation.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include dizziness, headache, nausea, weakness, confusion, and unconsciousness.