Carbon monoxide poisoning

Carbon monoxide (CO) is being formed during the process of incomplete burning of combustible materials – gas, liquid and solid fuels – caused by a lack of oxygen, necessary for complete combustion. Carbon monoxide can also be a product of natural gas combustion. It’s a poisonous gas that’s also very hazardous as it’s impossible to detect by human senses (it’s odorless, colorless and tasteless).

Carbon monoxide combines with hemoglobin much easier than oxygen so that the normal access is being blocked and you breathe in a poisonous gas instead of an oxygen. The brain and heart hypoxia occurs, which in many cases leads to death. Inhaling air with a concentration of 0.16% by volume of CO, after two hours causes death. The reasons of its poisoning mostly are:
• Defective or faulty heating devices
• Inappropriate usage of the heating devices
• Faulty chimneys in buildings
• Unobstructed room ventilation
• Car’s and mowers’ engines, left running in an enclosed room
• Fires

Before

• Check the tightness of the flue pipes and clean them regularly
• Check the air draught systematically, e.g. by putting a piece of paper on the ventilation grille – if nothing interferes with the ventilation, the paper should stick to the grille
• Don’t seal or obstruct the ventilation grilles
• Make sure that stoves, cookers or gas stoves are operational, make use of them according to the manufacturer’s instructions
• Check the proper functioning of the room ventilation systems, as windows made with new technologies provide high tightness
• Often ventilate the room where the burning process takes place (kitchens, bathrooms equipped with gas water heater), if possible, ensure that the windows are even slightly unsealed
• Install alarm sensors detecting carbon monoxide in rooms where the combustion process takes place

During

• If you noticed symptoms such as dyspnea, headache and dizziness, nausea, and there’re indications that these symptoms may occur due to CO poisoning, immediately open the doors and windows to ventilate the room
• If the injured person has any of these symptoms, call for help on 112
• The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning depend on the concentration of CO in the inhaled air and the concentration of carboxyhemoglobin in the blood. The most important symptoms, which can vary in intensity, include:
o Headache
o Concentration disorders
o Dizziness
o Weakness
o Vomiting
o Convulsions, loss of consciousness
o Coma
o Heart rate disorders
o Slow breathing

After

  • Don’t leave the shelter to help others until the authorities announces that it’s safe
  • Be especially careful when helping others who have been exposed to chemicals
  • A person affected by a chemical factor requires immediate medical help from a specialist. If it’s not available, disinfect yourself and help to disinfect others

Procedures for decontamination are as follows:

  • Remove all clothing and other items in contact with the body:
    • Cut clothes normally taken off by the head to avoid contact with the eyes, nose and mouth
    • Put dirty clothes and objects in a plastic bag and close tightly
    • Take off your glasses or contact lenses. Place the glasses in a pan of household bleach to decontaminate them, then rinse and dry them
  • Wash hands with the soap and warm weather
  • Wash your eyes
  • Gently wash the face and hair with soap and water and rinse thoroughly with water
  • Go to a medical facility for examination and professional treatment