Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can be very difficult to detect, often they can be confused with that of food poisoning, flu, viral infections or simple tiredness.
If you think you may have been at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning then it is essential you seek immediate medical attention, ask to be tested for CO poisoning, this test is usually a blood test followed by an ECG but because carbon monoxide escapes the body quickly it is important to get the test done as soon as you become aware that you may have been exposed.
Symptoms to watch out for are tiredness, chest and or stomach pains, head aches and nausea, unusual behaviour and feeling dizzy, being sick and struggling with your eye site. Higher levels of exposure will cause unconsciousness.
If you are found to have been exposed to carbon monoxide and have been poisoned you will be treated in hospital, the treatment you would receive is 100% oxygen through a mask, the air we breathe normally consists of around 20% oxygen.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is the largest cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the UK and is responsible for more than 50 deaths per year. Hundreds more are left brain damaged or seriously injured.
If poisoned with a very low level of carbon monoxide it is likely you will make a full recovery, however up to 50% of survivors with higher levels of carbon monoxide poisoning will be left with long term issues and problems can arise many years after being poisoned.
It is very difficult to detect carbon monoxide without a carbon monoxide alarm because it has no taste, colour or smell making it easy to breathe in without noticing.
Carbon monoxide is a risk in your home because it is produced by either gas, coal, wood and oil when they do not burn properly and there is a lack of ventilation.
For example an open house fire burning wood in an enclosed room without ventilation causes the oxygen to be used up and replaced with carbon dioxide, Once all of the oxygen has been used up the fire will be starved of oxygen and will not burn correctly, this then causes carbon monoxide to be created.
To protect you and your family from the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning make sure you are aware of the dangers and take preventative action.
For all hose hold appliances that run on gas including your central heating system and boiler ensure that regular servicing is carried out and a certificate obtained. Ensure that all maintenance work is carried out and that the engineer who carries out the work is gas safety registered.
For open fires in the home make sure that your chimney is swept regularly, at least once a year is recommended but more frequently will not harm. Chimney sweeps should be registered with either NACS, GMS or OFTEC In addition you should make sure that rooms are well ventilated.
Do not leave petrol powered machines or vehicles running in a garage
Make sure that you have a carbon monoxide alarm
25 April 2011