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Carbon monoxide warning

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Carbon monoxide warning

Carbon monoxide warning

Posted on Thursday 11th October 2012

Cumbrians warned of silent killer in the winter months

Health experts are warning Cumbrians of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning as temperatures drop and many residents turn on their heating for the first time this winter.

The reminder comes after an 83 year old woman died of suspected carbon monoxide poisoning at her home in Rochdale.

Carbon monoxide is produced when carbon based fuels such as coal, gas or oil aren't burned properly. This can happen when fuel appliances aren't maintained or used properly.

Home appliances such as cookers, heaters, and fires can produce carbon monoxide if they are not working properly. As winter draws in, NHS Cumbria is reminding people to be aware of the risks.

Carbon monoxide is often called the 'silent killer' as it has no taste, colour or odour and depending on the levels inhaled, it can cause permanent damage to major organs and even kill someone within a few breaths.

The signs to look out for which could mean carbon monoxide is leaking from an appliance are:

  • A yellow or orange flame where there should normally be blue ones
  • Sooty stains on the walls around fires and water heaters.

If anyone is concerned about the safety of their appliances they should get them checked by a Gas Safe Registered engineer. Audible carbon monoxide (CO) alarms as a useful back-up precaution but they must not be regarded as a substitute for proper installation and maintenance of gas appliances by a Gas Safe Registered engineer.

Early symptoms of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning can be similar to other ailments and infections such as food poisoning, or flu.

Symptoms to look out for include:

  • Tiredness
  • Drowsiness
  • Headaches
  • Giddiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Pains in the chest
  • Breathlessness
  • Stomach pains
  • Erratic behaviour
  • Visual problems

For more information visit NHS direct on www.nhs.uk| or call 0845 4647.

If anyone experiences any of the above symptoms and they believe they could have carbon monoxide poisoning they should seek urgent medical advice.

The presence of carbon monoxide is usually detected in a blood or breath test.

Dr Nigel Calvert is NHS Cumbria’s associate director of public health. He said: “Any heating appliance which burns fuel, including wood burners can potentially produce carbon monoxide if not properly installed and maintained.

“I would recommend people install a carbon monoxide alarm which can be bought relatively cheaply and can save your life.

"Carbon monoxide is called the silent killer for a good reason. It’s hard to detect and if you have been exposed to excessive amounts of the gas the symptoms are vague but can include headaches and drowsiness.

"This is why it's vital that people know what the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are, and get any home fuel appliances regularly checked. Older people, those with heart or lung problems, pregnant mothers, unborn babies, and young children are all particularly vulnerable to the dangers, so this is an important issue which if ignored could be fatal.” 

Posted on Thursday 11th October 2012


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