Banner Health poison control centers sees increase in calls about carbon monoxide poisoning

Banner Health says its workers are seeing more calls for carbon monoxide poisoning compared to this time last year.
Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 7:57 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — As temperatures across Arizona begin to drop, people are turning on their heating systems and Banner Poison Centers say that has led to an alarming number of calls of possible carbon monoxide poisoning.

There have been 197 exposures so far in 2023. From Oct. 1st up until last week, the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center has reported 47 exposures, which is at least four dozen more calls during the same time last year. They warn carbon monoxide poisoning can be deadly, but say these deaths can prevented. Just last month, multiple people were treated for symptoms after an apparent carbon monoxide emergency at a Mesa hotel near Alma School Road and Southern Avenue. “That’s something that typically more of a problem on the East Coast rather than out here in Arizona, but it absolutely happens here as well,” said Dr. Meghan Spyres, a toxicologist with the center.

Emergency crews were called there for reports of someone with a headache, according to Spyres, one of the most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. “It can kind of look like you’re sick with another virus, headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting. So that’s one of the reasons it’s so scary, it can easily be missed and not detected.”

Carbon monoxide is often referred to as a silent killer, causing someone’s death or even brain damage in just a matter of minutes. “It’s one of those things you can’t really see it, smell it or taste it. That’s why the carbon monoxide detectors are so important. That’s one of the things we want people to do, is make sure they’re working this time of year for sure,” she said.

Although the gas is often emitted from vehicles, it can also be emitted from fireplaces or even stoves being used for heat without proper ventilation. With Thanksgiving in a matter of days, cooking has also been a concern. She says the center is also seeing an increase in calls for food poisoning. “Cleaning your hands with soap and water, cleaning your surfaces with soap and water and if you have raw meat, like turkey or chicken on the cutting board, making sure you’re not then cutting fruit and vegetables that are then not going to be cooked, and cooking all meats to the appropriate temperature as well,” Spyres said.

Whether it’s first aid advice or potential poisoning, the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center in Phoenix is available 24/7. When calling the center, you’ll speak with a nurse or poison information provider trained in handling poison emergencies.

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