Carbon Monoxide Poisoning – Symptoms, Treatment & Emergency Action
Carbon monoxide poisoning seems to be big in the news at the moment and on soap operas but make no mistake, this is real life and death. At this time of year we are using our heating continuously and defects in the system can release deadly carbon monoxide into our home or workplace.
So what is carbon monoxide?
It is the poisonous by-product of incomplete fuel combustion and can be produced by systems using gas, coal, coke, charcoal etc. Unfortunately it is colourless, has no smell or taste and you may not notice it until too late.
Carbon monoxide prevents the red blood cells from carrying oxygen around the body and when deprived of oxygen your brain cells and body tissue die. So what we are saying is, exposure to carbon monoxide may cause brain damage, chronic illness or death.
What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?
Typical symptoms are flu like and you may feel headaches, lethargy, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, breathlessness. your symptoms will be most apparent when you are in the property with the defective heating system switched on and will disappear when you are out of the property. You should be suspicious if all of the occupants of your premises have similar symptoms.
Treatment for carbon monoxide poisoning
Immediate action should be to turn off the faulty appliance, open doors and windows and get people out of the property.
If you suspect you have suffered carbon monoxide poisoning you should visit your GP who can confirm the amount by means of a blood sample. Severe exposure will require 100% oxygen therapy in hospital to improve your bloods oxygen carrying ability. If you are dealing with a casualty who has collapsed, you will need to call the emergency services, make sure you don’t become a casualty.
How can I prevent carbon monoxide poisoning?
- Have your boiler serviced annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
- Get a carbon monoxide detector; you can buy them from £15 – £40 and it will be one of the best investments you make this year.
- Learn how to deal with first aid situations by attending a certified course with T&G Training.
- Don’t ignore the symptoms – if you suspect a faulty boiler – switch it off and call a registered gas engineer.