Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning – here’s what to look out for

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carbon monoxide poisoning

Often dubbed ‘the silent killer’, carbon monoxide is produced when gas isn’t burned properly, typically in machines or systems which utilise diesel, propane or combustion engines. Carbon monoxide is primarily deadly because it is completely colourless and odourless, making it exceptionally difficult to detect, and it can be especially dangerous in areas that lack proper ventilation.

With 25 years of industry experience here at Gas Alarm Systems, we’re all too familiar with the dangers that carbon monoxide can pose to you and your workforce. That’s exactly why gas detection alarms are so important – early detection can make all the difference to saving a life. In the spirit of that, here are the symptoms to watch out for, especially in areas where carbon monoxide might pose a known risk.

Key symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

The initial symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can be fairly innocuous, and so it may not be immediately obvious that carbon monoxide is the cause. Some of these initial symptoms include the following:

Tiredness
Drowsiness
Headaches
Nausea
Chest and stomach pains
Dizziness
Shortness of breath

If exposure continues, or carbon monoxide concentrations in the air are already at high concentrations, these symptoms may progress. The symptoms of exposure to low levels of carbon monoxide can be similar to those of food poisoning and flu, and can include things like:

Impaired mental state
Vertigo
Loss of physical co-ordination
Seizures

The longer you inhale the gas, the worse your symptoms will be. You may lose balance, vision and memory, and eventually you may even lose consciousness if you’re exposed for too long. The most serious symptoms can start to set in after just two hours of exposure, at which point it already poses a serious risk of death.

What to do to minimise the risk of exposure

So, what’s the best way to protect yourself and your staff? Well, happily there’s no shortage of preventative measures you can take. We’ve covered them in detail in our post on the 4 best ways to minimise the risks of toxic gases at work article, but in case you’re short on time, here’s a quick recap:

Conduct a risk assessment. We know they’re tedious and repetitive, but it’s absolutely vital that these are performed regularly to ensure that all potential risks are surveyed and acted upon.
Don’t fall into the trap of not completing them properly, as this can lead to dyer consequences like carbon monoxide poisoning.

Ensure that the area is properly ventilated. Failing to provide sufficient ventilation for the toxic fumes that can spread around your workplace, brings the risk of exposure to carbon monoxide up substantially. Even something as simple as opening a window can make a huge difference to the danger faced by the toxic gas.

Equip your staff with portable gas detection monitors. These are a great addition to any workforce, and can give your team an early warning that there’s carbon monoxide present in an environment. This in turn gives them ample time to locate the source of the leak, and deal with it accordingly before it causes anybody any harm.

Prioritise staff training – we recommend that you prioritise this equally with the procuring of gas alarms, and any other safety equipment. By keeping your staff informed of the dangers they face from carbon monoxide poisoning, they’ll know what to look out for, and this will greatly bring down the chances of them suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Above all else though, it’s absolutely vital that you install some effective carbon monoxide detectors so you can keep the risk of exposure to an absolute minimum. We can help you on that front.

How carbon monoxide detectors can prevent exposure

Carbon monoxide detectors are, without doubt, one of the safest ways to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. You can install one, or multiple carbon monoxide alarms in your workplace, depending on the size and nature of your premises. We advise placing these in key areas where the risk of leakage is at its highest. These detectors are designed to pick up on trace amounts of toxic fumes, alerting your staff to the danger, and giving them plenty of time to vacate the area until it can be made safe.

Our gas detectors come in a variety of styles to suit your needs. They provide comprehensive protection from the risks posed by asphyxiate, toxic and flammable gases, by giving you early warning of a potential leak.

Our in-house experts take care to provide reliable, cost-effective solutions tailored to meet the specific hazards of your industry. Feel free to take a look at our range of fixed gas detection systems or portable gas detection monitors, or if you have any questions or need any advice, by all means call us on 01423 862240, and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.