Know the signs

Recognising the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and knowing the danger signs around your appliances is the last line of defence.

The six main symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Breathlessness
  • Collapse
  • Loss of consciousness

Many of the symptoms of carbon monoxide are similar to those of flu, food poisoning, viral infections, or simple tiredness. Other warning signs that suggest carbon monoxide poisoning include symptoms that:

  • Only occur when you are at home
  • Disappear or get better when you leave the home and come back when you return
  • Are seasonal – e.g. headaches during the winter when the central heating is used more often
  • Or other people in your household (including your pets) are experiencing similar symptoms

Carbon monoxide poisoning can affect people’s mental ability before they are 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.

If you experience any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical advice from your Dr, call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 (NHS 24 in Scotland on 08454 242424) or if it is urgent, call 999 for an ambulance.

Although you can’t see or smell carbon monoxide, it is possible to identify signs that there may be a strong risk of it being produced.

Danger signs to look out for around gas and other fuel-burning appliances include:

  • Sooting or yellow/brown staining on or around your appliance
  • Excessive condensation in the room where the appliance is installed
  • Lazy yellow / orange coloured gas flame rather than a sharp blue one
  • Pilot lights that frequently blow out