June 18 — PROVO — Ask people to name their top summertime health concerns and carbon monoxide poisoning probably wouldn’t be high on the list.
But local physicians are already seeing what happens when people forget that the odorless, tasteless gas can be dangerous at any time of the year.
“We had our first two patients of the ‘outdoor’ carbon monoxide season last week and there’s a high probability we’ll see more before the summer season is over. Everyone needs to be aware that it isn’t just a problem in the winter,” said Gene Worth, MD, director of the Hyperbaric Medicine Center at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center.
One patient came in after the carbon monoxide level in his blood rose to 35 percent. He had been running a gasoline-powered concrete saw in his basement without proper ventilation. He called 911 after becoming lightheaded and nauseous and then realizing his CO monitor was going off.
The patient responded well to the emergency treatment and hyperbaric oxygen therapy he received at Utah Valley Regional. But the situation could easily have been much worse. Carbon monoxide levels that reach between 40 and 50 percent can result in loss of consciousness, coma and death.
In 2011, Utah Valley Regional’s Hyperbaric Medicine Center saw 11 patients for emergency treatment –  five poisoned from emissions from being towed behind a boat on Utah Lake and six poisoned by placing gasoline-powered equipment too close to a living area.
“Don’t let a day of fun on the lake or that home improvement project turn into a tragedy. Remember that carbon monoxide can be deadly any time of the year,” said Dr. Worth.