Carbon Monoxide Poisoning – “The Silent Killer”

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas which has no smell or taste, making it very difficult to detect.   Breathing it in is extremely dangerous and can kill.  It is often referred to as the “silent killer”.

Headway  – The Brain Injury Association estimate there are approximately 400 admissions to hospital with CO  poisoning in England each year and around 40-50 deaths.  For further information from Headway please visit:

CO is formed from burning fuels such as coal, gas, wood or charcoal and by petrol engines.  When fuels burn in an enclosed space, the oxygen in the room is gradually used up and replaced by carbon dioxide.  If carbon dioxide builds up in the air, the fuel is stopped from burning fully and starts to release CO.In small concentrations of CO poisoning, symptoms can include headaches, nausea, sickness and generally feeling unwell.  Sometimes these symptoms can be misdiagnosed as flu or food poisoning.    

With a more marked degree of CO poisoning there may be a feeling of weakness, dizziness, unsteadiness and problems with concentrating and thinking.   Confusion and drowsiness may develop and there may be shortness of breath and chest pains.  With severe CO exposure, deterioration may happen very quickly resulting in death.It is important to have all cooking and heating appliances which use fuels and wood installed and serviced regularly by a qualified, reputable and registered engineer.   Rooms in which these appliances are used must be adequately ventilated.  Chimneys and flues should be kept clear and swept from top to bottom at least once a year by a qualified chimney sweep . 

In rented properties, landlords are under a duty to ensure that appliances are maintained in a safe condition.  Gas appliances should be serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and a 12 month gas safety check must be carried out on every gas appliance/flue.With the continuing good weather it is also important for people bear in mind some further simple safety tips. 

 Whilst camping never take a barbeque into a tent, awning or caravan. 

A barbeque in enclosed spaces is lethal. 

Even a cooling barbeque can give off poisonous CO which can kill. 

Never cook inside your tent.  

Never run a gas, petrol or diesel-powered generator inside a caravan, tent or awning. 

It is always sensible to consider using a CO alarm.  

For further advice please visit was reported in the news earlier this year that a 7 year old boy died from possible CO poisoning after his family tried to clear their home of flood water.  It is thought that the boy may have become overcome from fumes from the pumps used to remove the water.  This case highlights the hidden dangers of CO poisoning.Although most people do recover from low level CO exposure when the source is removed, it can sometimes lead to long lasting neurological problems and even brain injury.

If you have been diagnosed with CO poisoning (and this would be confirmed by a blood test) and think you may have a claim against a third party then please contact Tracey Barton on 01752 292311 to discuss. We can advise you whether we believe there is a claim and if so, ensure that you receive the compensation you may be entitled to.

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