First carbon monoxide poisoning of the season comes with cold weather

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on December 11, 2012 at 6:45 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 8 at 9:25 AM

DALLAS – The hyperbaric chamber at Texas Health Dallas is restoring oxygen to William Cecil's brain Tuesday after he spent three nights in a camper with a faulty propane heater.

"I felt like I was going to be a bad day," said Cecil, "I couldn't get myself out of bed. And then when I did get out, I couldn't get on my feet."

Experts say Cecil, 62, is lucky he woke up at all.

"One of the problems with carbon monoxide is it's colorless, odorless and tasteless," said Dr. Jeff Stone, a hyperbaric medicine specialist at Texas Health Dallas. "He was unaware that he was having an exposure from his heater that wasn't vented properly. So when he woke up this morning, he wasn't able to move, he was confused."

Carbon Monoxide is responsible for about 500 deaths a year, 4,000 hospitalizations and 20,000 emergency room visits.

Dr. Stone says many cases are initially missed.

"Because it often presents with flu-like symptoms," he says.

Dr. Stone cautions people to make sure gas appliances and heaters are properly ventilated. Also, carbon monoxide detectors should have good batteries.

"I had no idea it was carbon monoxide," said Cecil, who thought at first he was experiencing low blood sugar.

He know knows he is lucky –– his son-in-law rescued him before he succumbed forever to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Email jstjames@wfaa.com

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