Could you be at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning?
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It has been reported that two men have been found unconscious at a house in the West Midlands following a carbon monoxide leak, and a woman and her two children are being treated at a hospital in Lincolnshire after breathing in carbon monoxide fumes. Earlier this month Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service said that it has seen more than a five-fold increase in carbon monoxide poisoning cases over the last 12 months.
With so many reports of people suffering from the effects of breathing in this carbon monoxide, more needs to be done to raise awareness and ensure that people know how to protect themselves from carbon monoxide poisoning within the home.
Carbon monoxide is a highly poisonous gas that has no colour, taste or smell. It is totally invisible to the human senses. When carbon monoxide is inhaled, it enters the bloodstream and prevents red blood cells from carrying oxygen. Without oxygen, body tissue and cells die.
The most common causes of carbon monoxide poisoning are poorly fitted or maintained domestic fossil fuel-burning heating or cooking appliances that have blocked or leaking flues. Tell-tale signs of a carbon monoxide leak include yellow or brown stains or soot marks on, or near, an appliance, a pilot light that keeps going out, more condensation than normal on the inside of windows or a yellow flame instead of a blue one (apart from on flueless fires).
Common symptoms of the inhalation of carbon monoxide include headaches, dizziness, feeling or being sick, tiredness or drowsiness, stomach pain and difficulty breathing. The longer the period of time in which the carbon monoxide is inhaled, the more severe the symptoms will become.
If you think you have a carbon monoxide leak, switch off the appliance and don’t use it again until an approved engineer has checked it. Tell your GP even if you do not feel unwell and ask for either a blood or breath test to check for carbon monoxide poisoning.
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