Carbon monoxide (CO) is the leading cause of poisoning deaths in industrialized countries. When studied, most accidental CO poisonings were found to be due to house fires, automobile exhaust fumes, indoor heating systems, gasoline-powered portable electric generators, stoves and other appliances, charcoal grills, camp stoves, water heaters, and boat exhaust fumes.
Firefighters and paramedics encounter incidents involving these items on a daily basis. Therefore, education on the sources of CO, as well as the signs and symptoms for someone exposed, is imperative. Noting that CO is present in every fire and symptoms of CO poisoning are nonspecific and easy to miss, any firefighter potentially exposed to CO and presenting with headache, nausea, shortness of breath or gastrointestinal symptoms should be assessed.