Take precautions against a silent killer

BECKLEY, W.Va. — This week’s carbon monoxide scare at United Bank in Beckley was very much a reminder of the dangers we all face during winter.

At least eight people at the bank were transported to a hospital after suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, overcome by the odorless and difficult to detect gas.

 We hope all of the victims make a quick recovery.

Carbon monoxide is referred to as the silent killer, and is especially dangerous when we are at our most vulnerable, during a power outage. Or, in the case of the bank accident, when a home or building’s heating unit malfunctions.

Following the impact of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, 117 deaths were reported as a result of the storm and its aftermath. Most of those were due to drowning, but nine of them — including some in West Virginia — were the result of carbon monoxide poisoning as families tried to stay warm without power across a broad area of the eastern United States, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But it doesn’t take a superstorm to bring trouble from carbon monoxide.

In 2012, a guest died from carbon monoxide poisoning at the Holiday Inn Express in Charleston when a newly installed swimming pool heater malfunctioned.

Nationally, about 450 deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning occur each year, with about 20,000 non-fatal injuries, according to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

Here are some tips on how to avoid carbon monoxide problems…


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