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  • How to Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning at Home

    Carbon monoxide, or carbon monoxide or carbon monoxide (CO), is often referred to as the silent killer. Because it is colorless, tasteless, and odorless, it does not cause any sensation when inhaled at first. As it enters the body, it causes poisoning. Importantly, the gas spreads rapidly, mixing with the air without losing its poisonous properties. In addition to the threat to life, be careful of the consequences to your property so that an accident does not occur, and you are not interested in rebuilding and full home renovation.

    Between 1 April 2011 and 15 June 2023, 767 unintentional CO-related events were recorded in the CHIRPP (Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program) database, a rate of 42.6 cases per 100,000 CHIRPP records. 

    The mean age of these events was 17.5 years; males accounted for 55.1% of cases (n=423), and children aged 0 to 4 years represented the highest percentage among age groups at 24.3% (n=184). 

    Almost two-thirds of the cases (63.6%) occurred during the cold season in Canada: autumn and winter. Occupational incidents related to CO exposure accounted for 10.6% of cases (n = 81). There were 150 incidents that resulted in two or more patients being admitted to emergency departments.

    Causes & Prevention of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning at Home

    • Only use equipment that is in good working order. Cracks in the stove masonry, clogged chimneys, and similar things can lead to serious consequences.
    • Carry out regular inspections of the gas cooker and the gas pipework. In homes with a gas heating system, inspecting and testing before the winter season is mandatory.
    • Ensure good ventilation. If you use a gas cooker for heating, carbon monoxide poisoning is a real possibility
    •  Do not close the stove damper until the coals have burned through.
    • Motorists do not work in the garage while the engine is running. Ventilation here is often lame, and therefore, fate should not be tempted.
    • Use gas equipment for its intended purpose and in accordance with the operating instructions.
    • Knowing the rules of behavior and first aid is necessary for emergency situations, such as fire.

    With regard to the prevention of poisoning by products of combustion, including carbon monoxide, the rules of behavior in case of fire are as follows:

    • When in a smoke-filled room, get down on all fours and crawl around the room.
    • Tie your mouth and nose with a cloth, preferably moistened with water or your own urine, which should somewhat reduce the entry of hazardous substances into the respiratory tract.
    • Look for a way out of the smoke-filled room in the direction the smoke travels as smoke moves toward open spaces.
    • Do not attempt to exit a burning building through a smoke-filled corridor or stairwell, as toxic smoke can cause rapid unconsciousness.
    • If exits are cut off by fire, cover window and door slits with rags, preferably wet, to reduce smoke entering the room.
    • When going out to balconies, loggias, and smoke-free stairwells, be sure to close the door behind you, having previously torn off the curtains and moved combustible objects away from the window (because their ignition will contribute to faster destruction of windows).

    Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

    Signs of carbon monoxide poisoning may vary depending on the degree of damage, general condition of the body, existing diseases, and other circumstances. Nevertheless, symptoms such as:

    • Dizziness, headache
    • Nausea, vomiting
    • Tinnitus
    • Shortness of breath, coughing
    • Watery eyes.

    The condition of the victim is more often excited, but in some cases, there is lethargy and drowsiness. There may be a violation of the vestibular apparatus (loss of balance, problems with coordination of movements) and hearing and vision disorders. These symptoms may precede loss of consciousness. In moderate to severe poisoning, problems in the cardiovascular system are very likely. Arrhythmias occur (pulse becomes irregular, intermittent); blood pressure drops, and body temperature drops. In such a situation, without timely medical assistance, the victim may die.

    First aid in carbon monoxide poisoning of a mild degree (if there is dizziness and nausea)—to provide an influx of fresh air (take or carry the person outside). But until his condition is completely normal, watching him leave without attention to the victim can not be.

    In all other cases, do not try to do without medical help—call an ambulance without delay because it is difficult to predict how the situation will develop.

    The main task when waiting for a doctor is to alleviate the victim’s condition as much as possible. 

    Following the advice given in this material can help to save the life and health of you and your loved ones.

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