Symptoms of poisoning, preventive measures… Everything you need to know about carbon monoxide

It is mostly formed during the incomplete combustion of all types of carbon and carbon-rich products (wood, coal, gas, fuel oil, kerosene, etc.).

THERE ISCarbon monoxide (CO) is the leading cause of accidental deaths from toxic substances in France, with an average of around one hundred deaths each year. Carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas, is difficult to detect.

The main sources of poisoning identified are gas or oil-fired boilers, to which are added factors such as poor ventilation (no air inlet or outlet or clogged or obstructed), appliance failure, and lack of maintenance of the appliance. , or a malfunction in the evacuation of burnt gases. In some cases, poisonings were observed due to the indoor use of devices not connected to the exhaust duct (generators, etc.).

Where does carbon monoxide come from?

Several sources of CO can be identified in the apartment:

– Heating systems: boilers, convectors, auxiliary heaters (oil, gas);

– Gas hot water production devices (water heaters);

– Cooking appliances (for example, a gas stove);

– temporary heating devices (for example, barbecues);

– Devices to be used outdoors (generators, barbecues);

– To smoke;

– Fires;

– A car working in a garage;

– Outside air, especially when coming from a high traffic area.

A reminder of basic preventive measures to prevent poisoning

Before winter

Call a qualified professional (plumber, heating engineer, or sweeper company) to inspect and maintain heating equipment (boiler, furnace, and accessories) and water heaters.

Have the chimneys swept by a professional and check their tightness.

All year

Ventilate regularly (at least 10 minutes every day) even if the living space is cold and never block air inlets and outlets (ventilation grill in kitchen, bathroom, boiler room).

Auxiliary heaters, even if equipped with safety devices, should not be used continuously. Instructions for use provided by the manufacturer must be followed. The device should be placed in a well-ventilated room.

Generator sets should never be placed indoors (house, basement, garage, attic, etc.) but outside buildings and away from air intakes.

The first signs of poisoning

CO is basically a blood poison, it binds to hemoglobin and takes the place of oxygen. This causes a decrease in oxygen in the blood (hypoxia), which can then lead to “asphyxia”, which can be fatal.

The first signs of poisoning are the only warning signs. These are headaches, blurred vision, mild anxiety, palpitations. These symptoms can be wrongly attributed to other pathological conditions (indigestion). If the concentration of CO is high, poisoning results in nausea, vomiting, dizziness or, more seriously, fainting and then death. Treatment of carbon dioxide poisoning involves oxygen therapy (the therapeutic use of inhaled oxygen) to remove CO from hemoglobin.

The residence should be ventilated immediately, fuel-burning appliances should be turned off if possible, buildings should be evacuated as soon as possible, and emergency services should be called (112, 18). Combustion devices should no longer be used before a visit to a qualified specialist, who will look for the cause of the poisoning and suggest what to do.

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