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How to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning

HealthBauer Xcel
How to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning

Carbon monoxide poisoning is more common than you might think, but here are some easy ways to avoid it.

What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a gas that can be very dangerous to your health and even fatal. It is sometimes referred to as the silent killer because it has no smell, taste or colour, which makes it difficult to detect. It's produced when fuels such as gas, oil, coal or wood do not burn fully.

Every year in the UK around 200 people are admitted to hospital with suspected CO poisoning, leading to around 40 deaths.

4.5 million pensioners don't have a carbon monoxide alarm, and a quarter wouldn't want to 'bother' their GP with symptoms.

What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can be hard to spot, as they're quite similar to those of flu or food poisoning. However, unlike flu, it won't cause a fever. Look out for any of the following:

  • Headache

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Dizziness

  • Tiredness and confusion

  • Stomach pain

  • Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing

Other clues that there may be a CO leak:

  • Your symptoms may become less severe when you’re away from the source of CO

  • Pets may become ill- the smaller the animal is, the faster a CO leak will affect them

How can you protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning?

  1. Know the most common symptoms: dizziness, headaches, nausea and vomiting, tiredness and confusion, stomach pain, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing

  2. Fit CO alarms in your home

  3. Get your appliances serviced regularly by registered engineers and ensure all new appliances are installed by registered professionals

  4. Make sure your kitchen is fitted with an extractor fan, do not block air vents and ensure all rooms are property ventilated

  5. Ensure your chimneys and flues are swept regularly by qualified sweeps

What to do if you suspect you have a carbon monoxide leak

  • Stop using all appliances and evacuate the property immediately - stay calm and avoid raising your heart rate

  • Call the gas emergency number on 0800 111 999 to report the incident - or Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Gas Safety Advice Line on 0800 300 363

  • Do not go back into the property - wait for advice from the emergency services

  • Get immediate medical help - you may not realise if you're badly affected and going outside into fresh air won't treat any exposure by itself.

  • Click here for more information on carbon monoxide poisoning
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