Recognise the early symptoms

Recognising the early symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning will save your life. The symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning are similar to the ‘flu’. They can include:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness
  • Headaches
  • Stomach pains
  • Chest pains

If you experience these symptoms but feel better when you are outside or away from the appliance, you could be suffering from Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

Our blood has a component called haemoglobin, which normally absorbs oxygen in our lungs and carries it to the rest of the body. But haemoglobin absorbs Carbon Monoxide 240 times more easily than it does oxygen.

So, when we inhale Carbon Monoxide from the air, it is this toxic gas, rather than oxygen that attaches itself to the haemoglobin, starving the body of oxygen. The smaller the person, the more quickly the body can be overcome by the effects of Carbon Monoxide.

Severe Carbon Monoxide poisoning makes the body turn a cherry-red colour. Unlike a lack of oxygen due to choking for example, the body does not turn blue. Instead, the victim’s skin will be pink or pale with bright red lips.

Carbon Monoxide poisoning can affect the victim’s mental ability before they are even aware that there is a problem. Any effort that increases the body’s need for oxygen only makes the problem worse, rapidly leading to collapse and potentially death.