Humans rely on our senses to perceive threats in our environment — for example, touching a hot pan results in pain that instinctively causes you to let go and pull your hand away. However, our senses are far from a perfect warning system. Dangers such as frostbite can creep up gradually, dulling our senses to the damage that's occurring. Similarly, carbon monoxide has been called “the silent killer” due to its tendency to go undetected. This invisible gas has no smell or taste, and kills hundreds of individuals each year.
Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is a natural byproduct of combustion — open fires, stoves, heaters, and running engines. This makes it an especially serious risk during the colder parts of the year, since the same heat sources that keep us warm can also be giving off the deadly gas. Without adequate ventilation, the concentration can quickly increase to dangerous levels.
CO-related deaths often occur in homes, businesses, and enclosed garages, but there have also been recorded instances of campers dying after running stoves inside their tents to generate heat or cook food.
The following infographic from GBS New York outlines some of the potential risks and warning signs related to carbon monoxide poisoning, as well as preventative steps that can be taken to reduce these risks. Click here to download a full-size version of this graphic.