Hospital sees increase in carbon monoxide poisoning

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA-TV) - When the temperatures are extreme, we bundle up and turn up the heat. In the recent cold wave, the physicians at the Rapid City Regional Hospital Emergency Department saw a dramatic increase in the number of carbon monoxide poisonings. Most were associated with the improper use of sources of heat or power during the frigid weather.

Hyperbaric chamber at Rapid City Regional Hospital

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas. Sources include cars and trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, and furnaces.

Dr. Patrick Tibbles, emergency medicine physician with Rapid City Regional Hospital, also services as the director of the hyperbaric oxygen therapy at the hospital.

"We're really fortunate to have hyperbaric oxygen therapy available at Regional Health," says Dr. Tibbles. This therapy uses pure oxygen to speed and enhance the body's natural ability to heal.

Patients who may benefit from hyperbaric oxygen therapy suffer from various diseases associated with hypoxia or lack of oxygen on the cellular level, such as non-healing diabetic wounds, trauma wounds, necrotizing infections, compromised skin grafts and flaps, crush injuries, etc.

We still have plenty of winter ahead of us. Dr. Tibbles advises caution. Generators belong out in the open, not indoors, in garages or carports, Have your furnaces checked annually.

Never warm up your car in your garage, even if the door is open. Don't use your grill inside or your gas oven as a heat source.

Most importantly, he advises you install a simple carbon monoxide detector in your home, which will alert you if gas is building up. They cost $20 or less and could be the difference between allowing you to escape or survive.

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