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Warning signs of carbon monoxide poisoning

It’s important that you are aware of the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide poisoning can be fatal. The gas is difficult to detect because it is colourless, tasteless, odourless and non-irritating. You can take steps to help reduce the risk of exposure to the gas.

Signs and symptoms

The signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are often mistaken for other illnesses, such as food poisoning or flu. The symptoms can be similar to flu but without a raised temperature.

Please look out for these signs and symptoms and consider if carbon monoxide poisoning could be the cause:

  • headaches
  • nausea and vomiting
  • exhaustion
  • drowsiness
  • dizziness and lightheadedness
  • flu-like symptoms
  • palpitations (feeling your heart beat oddly)
  • chest pain
  • collapse without necessarily losing consciousness, followed by unconsciousness

You can find out more in the guide below:

If you think you might be suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, you should:

  • immediately turn off all appliances
  • go outside
  • seek medical help from a qualified healthcare professional

Carbon monoxide poisoning can also cause long-term health problems if you’re exposed to low doses over a long period of time.

Appliances should not be used again until they have been serviced by a registered engineer.

Minimise the risk of broken carbon monoxide poisoning

To minimise the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • install an audible carbon monoxide alarm (from as little as £20) that meets British or European standards (BS Kitemark or EN 50291)
  • regularly get your appliances serviced
  • sweep chimneys and flues every year if you use solid fuel
  • if you are in rented accommodation ask your landlord to provide you with an up-to-date gas safety record, which is a legal requirement and is particularly important for students renting houses and flats
  • keep flues, air vents and grilles clear and make sure rooms are well ventilated

Carbon monoxide poisoning can affect anyone. However, children, students, the elderly, pregnant women and anyone with heart or breathing problems are more vulnerable to its effects.