Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Causes of CO Poisoning

You can be in danger of Carbon Monoxide poisoning at home if dangerous amounts of Carbon Monoxide accumulate in the home. This can happen as a result of any or a combination of the following:

  • Faulty or damaged heating appliances
  • Heating appliance not maintained or serviced
  • Rooms not properly ventilated
  • Blocked chimneys or flues
  • Indoor use of a barbecue grill or outdoor heater
  • Poor installation of heating appliances
  • Improper operation of heating appliances
  • Property alterations or home improvements, which reduce ventilation
  • Running engines such as vehicles or lawnmowers in garages
  • Using cooking appliances for heating purposes

Symptoms of CO Poisoning

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning can be similar to those caused by other illnesses such as a cold or flu. They include

  • Unexplained headaches, chest pains or muscular weakness
  • Sickness, diarrhoea or stomach pains
  • Sudden dizziness when standing up
  • General lethargy

What to Do?

If anyone in your house has any of the symptoms outlined above get fresh air immediately, then go to your doctor and ask him/her to check for Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

Stop using the appliance immediately and do not use it again until it has been checked by a registered installer or a qualified service agent.

The amount of CO which the blood absorbs depends chiefly on two things: how much CO is in the air and the time of the exposure. Adverse effects of CO on humans are reduced by periods of breathing fresh air. The degree of recovery depends on the number and length of those periods. The general state of health and degree of physical activity of a person exposed to CO are other factors involved in the effects of Carbon Monoxide on the body.

Physiological Effects of Carbon Monoxide (CO)
Parts per Million Time of Exposure Response
50   Threshold limit, no apparent toxic symptoms
100 Several hours No symptoms for long periods
200 2-3 hours Possible headache
400 1-2 hours Frontal headache and nausea
800 45 minutes Headache, dizziness and nausea
800 2 hours Collapse and possible unconsciousness
1600 20 minutes Headache, dizziness and nausea
1600 2 hours Collapse, unconsciousness, possible death
3200 5-10 minutes Headache and dizziness
3200 10-15 minutes Unconsciousness and possible death
6400 1-2 minutes Headache and dizziness
6400 0-15 minutes Unconsciousness and possible death
12800 Immediate Unconsciousness
12800 1-3 minutes Danger of death

If you or your family experience symptoms and you believe CO may be involved you should seek urgent medical advice. Inform your doctor of your concerns. CO will leave the blood when you go out into the fresh air and tests for CO may be inaccurate if taken hours after the exposure has ceased.

Again, if you find a person ill or unconscious near any fuel burning appliance, be careful in case you also become a casualty. Get fresh air immediately by opening windows and doors.

Produced in the interest of safety by:
Registered Gas Installers
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