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Risks and Understanding of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in an Ice Fishing Community

Abstract 

Ice fishing is an activity that can lead to accidental carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from the prolonged use of propane heaters in icehouses. Published literature on this topic is scant. We conducted a survey of adults registered for a Minnesota ice fishing festival to assess risks for CO poisoning. Participants were surveyed about their knowledge of CO poisoning and the details of their ice fishing and icehouses. Of 387 participants, 101 adults completed our survey. Mean age was 44 years, and 73% identified as male. Among respondents, 85% fish in icehouses and 79% indicate they consume alcohol while fishing. Furthermore, 98% of respondents use propane heaters for an average of 9.66 hr; however, only 33% have CO detectors. While 92% of respondents are aware of CO poisoning and 84% know some of the symptoms, only 34% would seek medical attention for symptoms of CO poisoning. CO poisoning is a risk among ice fishers. Furthermore, while a majority of respondents are aware of CO poisoning, few have CO detectors or would seek medical attention for symptoms of CO poisoning. Our survey provides baseline data that can be used for public health outreach about the risks of CO among ice fishers. 

Volume: 85 
Number: 4 
Pages: 16–20 
Published: November 2022 

Authors 

  • Christopher T. Bird, MS, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine, Hyperbaric Medicine, The University of Kansas Health System, University of Kansas 
  • Bjorn C. Westgard, MA, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine, Hyperbaric Medicine, Hennepin Healthcare Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Minnesota 

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