10 Causes Of CO Poisoning

Carbon monoxide poisoning – also called CO poisoning – regularly hits the headlines when holidaymakers or homeowners fall ill as a result of poorly maintained gas boilers or water heaters in holiday accommodation or homes.

Cookers and cooking equipment such as barbecues can also cause CO poisoning – and using a camping gas stove in a mobile home or near a tent can also be a hazard.

CO poisoning can be fatal if not detected – and for this reason carbon monoxide is known as the silent killer. It is an odourless, colourless gas which is hard to detect.

However, there are signs that it may be present – usually a black edge to a ceiling, condensation in a room and feelings of being tired all the time or drowsy and confused.

As concentrations of carbon monoxide increase in a room, symptoms of CO poisoning will also become more severe and include headache, nausea, dizziness, loss of consciousness and eventually death.

At its most lethal, CO can cause unconsciousness within 2-3 breaths and death within three minutes.


The 10 most common sources of CO poisoning are:

  • Badly maintained or poorly fitted boilers, cookers and kitchen/heating appliances
  • Barbecues, camping stoves and cookers
  • Blocked chimneys
  • Corroded pipework in gas water heaters
  • Cracked or loose pipes on furnaces
  • Exhaust fumes if a car engine is left running
  • Gas cookers
  • Gas or kerosene heaters
  • Using a barbecue or camping stove indoors or near a tent
  • Wood burners

It is always advisable to cook in well-ventilated areas – and never use a camping stove inside or near your tent or mobile home.

Buying a CO monitor for your home is also a necessity, as by the time the ceiling has turned black and you are feeling ill, the effects of CO poisoning will already have taken hold.

Make sure the batteries of your CO monitor are changed regularly and test it weekly.

Smoking cigarettes also releases CO into the atmosphere, so smoking, cooking and heating in a poorly ventilated area is not advisable.

If you are off on holiday and staying in rented accommodation, take your CO monitor with you. In the UK, the Gas Safe Register issues safety certificates to rented accommodation – but abroad, newly installed or badly maintained boilers have been know to cause tragedies, so be CO gas aware when you travel.

One scenario we hear a lot about regarding carbon monoxide poisoning is when campers bring their barbeque inside or in the door way of tents to get warm. This often ends in tradegy when a family member or many dies.

Getting poisoned by CO can have serious health implications and can result in death. Claiming compensation if you have been poisoned and it wasn’t your fault can give you the security of knowing your health costs will be covered.

Photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/salforduniversity/3704036692/

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