If you are feeling weak, dizzy, nauseous, and have a headache, don’t automatically assume you have the flu and shake it off. These symptoms could mean that you have carbon monoxide poisoning. Other symptoms include confusion, blurred vision, shortness of breath, and unconsciousness. This condition doesn’t require that you have all of these symptoms. It is extremely dangerous and has killed people without their awareness that anything is wrong.
Carbon monoxide is odorless, tasteless, colorless, and non-irritating. This means you can’t count on your senses to give you a warning. Sometimes carbon monoxide is present among other gases that do have a smell such as engine exhaust. However, you shouldn’t count on this because rig drivers have been poisoned from their own exhaust without knowing they had a problem.
Carbon Monoxide Sources the Commercial or Owner Operator Trucker Should Watch For
- Faulty exhaust system. Don’t get lax with your rig maintenance. Commercial or owner operator drivers alike have discovered after the fact that their general weakness and other health problems were caused by an exhaust leak. If you discover a leak, get it repaired before riding in your rig.
- Heaters. Heaters that rely on combustion of a fuel such as propane can be deadly inside a closed cab. It doesn’t matter if you turn it off before sleeping because it can overwhelm you while you are awake without your realizing it.
- Truck stops. Even if there is no carbon monoxide source on your rig, you can get poisoned by the truck idling next to you. This is especially a problem if the truck doesn’t have a vertical stack exhaust but uses a horizontal “weed burner” exhaust system instead. The truck’s auxiliary power unit (APU) is another possible carbon monoxide source if it’s positioned next to you.
Get a Carbon Monoxide Detector
Getting a carbon monoxide detector is well worth its $20 to $40 cost. Make sure it’s designed for use in a vehicle. Home variety detectors may not handle the road vibration and temperature extremes that your cab sees. When the alarm goes off, park your rig in a safe location and get out. Don’t drive your truck until the source of the leak has been found and repaired.
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