If the casualty was inside a burning building or other closed structure, he may have carbon monoxide poisoning.

NOTE: Carbon monoxide (CO) is formed when materials burn without sufficient oxygen being present. When carbon monoxide is inhaled, some red blood cells bond with the carbon monoxide instead of oxygen (O2). This results in a decrease of oxygen in the blood system since the body cannot use carbon dioxide like it does oxygen. A casualty suffering from carbon should be given oxygen if it is available.]

Signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include the following.

a. Dizziness and/or headache.

b. Nausea.

c. Cherry-red colored skin and mucous membranes (check the lining inside the casualty’s lips). This is a late sign.

d. Rapid pulse (tachycardia).

e. Rapid breathing (tachypnea).

f. Respiratory distress, including possible respiratory arrest.

NOTE: Pulse oximeters are not effective on carbon monoxide poisoning patients. They will falsely read 100 percent due to the carbon monoxide binding to the hemoglobin.

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