DOH warns genset users vs. carbon monoxide poisoning

With sellers of generating sets enjoying brisk sales in towns battered by super typhoon Rolly, the Department of Health, Bicol Center for Health Development (DOH-Bicol CHD), has issued an advisory warning users of the risks of Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning.

The three successive typhoons that affected the island knocked out the power supply to thousands of homes and businesses, making people turn to alternative power sources such as generator sets.

However, if used improperly, this can lead to build up of CO inside homes, garages or buildings that could poison people inside, said DOH-Bicol CHD Assistant Regional Director Ferchito L. Avelino.

Eight (8) cases of CO poisoning have been reported from the municipalities of Malinao (2 cases) and City of Ligao (6 cases) in Albay province as of date. All were referred to the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital. An 88-year old female from Malinao subsequently died from the event.

Clinicians and the general public are warned to watch out for symptoms that are related to CO poisoning. These include headache, shortness of breath, altered mental status and behavioral changes, fatigue, malaise or general feeling of sickness, dizziness, clumsiness or difficulty of walking, vision problems, confusion and impaired judgment, nausea and vomiting, rapid breathing, chest pain and a rapid or irregular heartbeat.

These symptoms plus a history of exposure to carbon monoxide or several people with similar complaints are red flags for possible carbon monoxide poisoning.

Most at risk for CO poisoning are babies, pregnant, elderly and people with chronic conditions such as anemia, respiratory illness or heart disease.

The advisory also includes first aid for CO poisoning, safe practices for operating generator sets and prompt reporting of suspected cases of CO poisoning.

The DOH-Bicol CHD has intensified its information dissemination through various media platforms.

Moreover, it has coordinated with local health officials through the DOH Development Management Officers on proper use of generator sets as well as with hospitals on prompt diagnosis and treatment to prevent mortality from CO poisoning.

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