The Gas Works News Blog

What You Need to Know About Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide poisoning happens when an individual is exposed to carbon monoxide for an extended period of time.

This can be extremely dangerous to one’s health and in extreme cases, carbon monoxide poisoning can cause death.

carbon monoxide poisoning

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas produced by burning gasoline, propane, wood, charcoal or other fuel.

Unfortunately, carbon monoxide is colorless, ordourless and tasteless, making it extremely hard to detect without specialized carbon monoxide detectors.

How Does Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Happen?

When there is too much carbon monoxide in the air that you are breathing in, your body replaces the oxygen in your red blood cells with the harmful gas. As a result, oxygen is prevented from reaching your tissues and vital organs which can be fatal.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The following are symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dull headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Confusion

What makes carbon monoxide so dangerous is that it has the potential to cause severe harm before it is even detected.

This is especially true in cases where people are either sleeping or intoxicated, as symptoms are similar or may go unnoticed before it’s too late.

Seeking Medical Attention

Although the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning may be subtle, the condition is considered a life-threatening medical emergency which requires immediate medical attention.

Should you suspect that you or someone you're with may have poisoning, move into an open space with fresh air immediately and contact emergency services.

How is Carbon Monoxide Made?

The release of carbon monoxide takes place when engines and appliances burn fuel. However, the fact that carbon monoxide is released is not the cause for concern, but rather when the burning takes place in an enclosed or semi-enclosed space with improper ventilation.

Who is Most at Risk?

  • Unborn babies
  • Children
  • Geriatrics
  • Individuals with chronic heart disease
  • Those who have lost consciousness due to over exposure to carbon monoxide

How to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

  • Open your garage door before starting your car and never leave your car running in your garage, especially when your garage leads directly into your home
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors in your home, especially near each sleeping area. Make sure the batteries are replaced before they run flat
  • Make sure your fuel burning appliances are properly vented. Fuel burning appliances include space heaters, furnaces, water heaters, charcoal grills, fireplaces, portable generators, motor vehicle engines and wood-burning stoves
  • Use your gas appliances only as recommended. Always use portable gas stoves outdoors, never use a gas stove to heat your home, only leave on space heaters when someone is awake and present to ensure the area is well ventilated and never run a generator in an enclosed space
  • Make sure your fireplace is well maintained and in good repair
  • If there was a carbon monoxide poisoning incident in your home, make sure that the source of the problem is located and properly repaired before you return
  • When working with solvents, make sure you are working in a well-ventilated area. In addition, always read the instructions and follow all recommended safety precautions. Solvents such as paint and varnish removers may contain methylene chloride which can break down into carbon monoxide when inhaled
  • Make sure all your gas appliances are installed correctly according to guidelines and are well maintained at all times. Ensure that you obtain a gas compliance certificate for all your gas installations

The Gas Works – Gas Installations Cape Town

Carbon monoxide poisoning can be life-threatening. Therefore, it’s of utmost importance that all your fuel-burning appliances are properly installed, utilised and maintained.

Our registered gas installers provide professional gas installation services in Cape Town. We ensure that all installations meet the relevant health and safety regulations. We also provide you with a gas compliance certificate once the installation is complete.

Should you suspect that one of your gas appliances is in need of repair or maintenance or in installed incorrectly, please don't hesitate to contact us.


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