Friday, 23 June 2017

Planning a BBQ this weekend? Most of us are savvy enough to avoid food poisoning, but are we aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning?

Barbecue season is upon us, but did you realise that you could be at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning?

Research by the Gas Safe Register has found that 80 per cent of people are unaware they are at danger of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning while having a barbecue.

This is something that needs highlighting as about half of the country will have five barbecues this summer. 

CO gas is released during a barbecue when a carbon-based fuel, such as gas or charcoal, isn’t given enough ventilation to burn adequately.

CO poisoning is known as the silent killer because it is a colourless, odourless and tasteless poisonous gas - so you can’t see it, taste it or smell it!

When CO enters the body, it prevents the blood from bringing oxygen to cells, tissues, and organs. CO can kill quickly without warning or cause serious harm to health if breathed in over a long period of time. In extreme cases paralysis and brain damage can be caused as a result of prolonged exposure to CO.

Symptoms of CO poisoning to be aware of include breathlessness, headaches, nausea, dizziness, collapse and the loss of consciousness. 

The side-effects of exposure to low levels of carbon monoxide are not always obvious and can be similar to those of food poisoning and flu. 

General published advice to reduce the dangers of CO poisoning whilst barbecuing includes never using a barbecue indoors or inside a tent or other structures and areas where there isn’t sufficient ventilation. 

Simply, never bring a barbecue inside - even when the barbecue appears to have burnt out! 
More than 200 people go to hospital in the UK each year with suspected CO poisoning, which leads to around 50 deaths.

Gas, oil and solid fuel burning boilers and appliances also produce carbon monoxide. Therefore you should safeguard against CO poisoning with regular servicing and maintenance checks.  It is also recommended to have a CO detector in every room where a gas, oil or solid wood burning boiler, fire or stove is situated.

If you are concerned over CO fumes, you can source a qualified plumbing and heating engineer at who can investigate the presence of fumes and inspect your appliances.

The Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors have published a guide to ‘Understanding the dangers of Carbon Monoxide’. 

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