The Salt Lake City-County Health Department has issued a warning to the more than 195,000 Utahns who are expected to be headed for the back country this month during deer and elk hunting seasons.
Health officials are urging outdoorsmen to be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide, an odorless, tasteless, colorless gas produced when fuels such as wood, charcoal, coal, oil, gas, kerosene or natural gas are burned.Health department spokesperson Kathy Chambers said in cold weather, hunters spending time warming up in their cars and campers must be sure to leave a window open for air circulation and run the engine, heater, or catalytic space heater sparingly. Regardless of the type of heater you are using, carbon monoxide may build up in the vehicle without the victims' knowledge until it is too late.
Chambers said the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headaches, dizziness, irregular breathing, ringing in the ears, coughing, and/or unconsciousness.
Charcoal, Chambers said, should never be burned for heating or cooking inside the motor home, cabin, camper, or tent, even if it is in a small grill, hibachi, or fireplace. Burning charcoal produces large mounts of carbon monoxide and should be restricted to outdoors.
Gas or kerosene powered camp lanterns, heaters, stoves, and similar equipment also produces the gas, she said, and should be well-ventilated.
Chambers said in recreational vehicles carbon monoxide concentrations can reach dangerous levels because of engine exhaust fumes leaking into the camper, or from damaged, unvented heaters.
If you suspect that you have a problem with carbon monoxide leakage the health department has detector badges available that are sensitive enough to detect low concentrations of the gas. The detectors can be purchased at the health department for $1.50 each, and provide individuals with a way of detecting and evaluating carbon monoxide hazards while hunting, camping, or in the home for a period of 30 days.
For more information on carbon monoxide, contact Chambers at 524-4536.