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How to prevent CO poisoning ?

CO poisoning claims many victims each year, especially during the cold winter months. However, with a few precautions it is easy to prevent. Choose reliable appliances, respect safety regulations and schedule regular checks.

What is CO?

CO or carbon monoxide is a colourless and odourless gas. It is produced during incomplete combustion of fuels containing carbon, such as butane, propane and natural gas.

What is CO poisoning?

CO poisoning is the result of inhaling carbon monoxide. When inhaled, the carbon monoxide enters the blood and disrupts the transport of oxygen through the red blood cells. When the concentration of CO in the blood becomes too high, the organs do not get enough oxygen to function and are in danger of shutting down.

What are the symptoms of CO poisoning?

How can you tell if someone is suffering from CO poisoning? Look for these symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

When several people in the same room show symptoms, this often indicates CO poisoning. When exposed to high concentrations, respiratory arrest may occur. The victim is usually also short of breath and confused. Call the poison control centre if you suspect any of this: 070 245 245.

What causes CO poisoning?

The causes are:

  • Ventilation problems (insufficient supply of fresh air).
  • Chimney problems (inadequate evacuation of combustion gases).
  • Poor installation, operation or maintenance of heating appliances.
  • Mobile heating appliances that are not connected to a chimney.
  • Exhaust gases from motor vehicles or petrol engines.

How do you prevent CO poisoning?

CO poisoning can be prevented by taking the necessary precautions:

  • Ensure a supply of fresh air in rooms with a heating appliance.
  • Check and clean the flue regularly.
  • Call in a recognised expert for the installation and maintenance.
  • Avoid movable heaters or use them only in large rooms as auxiliary heating.
  • Be careful of exhaust fumes in closed rooms.

Your safety comes first for us, which is why we make sure that the installations in your home meet the strictest safety standards. A certified gas fitter takes care of the installation, a recognised inspection body carries out the inspection. So, make sure you have your installation checked regularly!

What do do in the event of CO poisoning?

When you suspect CO poisoning, for example when a person is lying unconscious in a room, take the following steps:

  1. First call the emergency services (emergency number 112).
  2. Ventilate the room by opening windows and doors. Do this without putting yourself in danger.
  3. Switch off the appliance which you think may be the cause.
  4. Evacuate the victim from the room.
  5. Resuscitate the victim if you can no longer hear breathing or put the victim in a sideways position to prevent them from choking on their own vomit.


Be extra vigilant during the cold winter months when trying to keep warm. Combustion gases may not discharge properly, also when there is no wind or a great deal of wind.