What to do if You Suspect a Carbon Monoxide Leak

Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas that is extremely difficult to detect without some sort of aid. This gas can cause a range of problems, from short term illness to permanent damage or death, and the levels of carbon monoxide that are breathed in determine the effects this gas may have upon a person.

The duration over which the gas is breathed in can also have an effect.

For example, a large amount of carbon monoxide breathed in over a short period can cause permanent or serious damage, or death. However, smaller amounts of carbon monoxide breathed in over longer periods of time can have the same effect.

Because carbon monoxide is odourless, colourless and tasteless, the only way to determine whether there are dangerous levels of CO in the air is through a proper detector, a range of which are available on the market.

Exposure to any type of dangerous chemical must be treated as an emergency situation because the effects can be devastating. Buildup of carbon monoxide in poorly ventilated areas, such as homes, automobiles, and campers, may lead to deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.

However, you can take note of clues that could indicate the presence of abnormally high levels of carbon monoxide in the air, such as one of more of the people in the room suffering from flu-type symptoms. Pets are also very susceptible to CO poisoning and may also be unwell.

What To Do If You Are Exposed To Carbon Monoxide?

If you have been exposed to carbon monoxide, you should follow the emergency steps listed below:

  • Evacuate the location that you believe is the source of the carbon monoxide exposure. Open doors and windows in the location to allow fresh air to enter the space and carbon monoxide to escape.
  • Go outdoors and get fresh air as quickly as possible to release the chemicals from your body.
  • Call 911 for emergency medical treatment.
  • Have a licensed professional examine the area you suspect is releasing carbon monoxide and make any necessary repairs.

If you suspect there is a carbon monoxide leak in your home, the first thing you need to do is get out. You should treat carbon monoxide as you would a fire – this gas can and does kill in minutes, and just because there are no flames and no physical evidence of the gas, this does not make it any less dangerous.

Don’t stop to gather belongings or pack clothes – simply get everyone together and get out in to the fresh air. If you are able to open windows and doors as you go, then do so.

Once you have left the house, contact the fire department to inform them that you suspect a carbon monoxide leak in your home. Do not return to your house for any reason. The proper authorities will have the right equipment with which to enter your house safely, but you will still be at risk if you go back in.

You also need to contact your doctor immediately or go straight to the hospital and get yourself and other family members checked out for possible carbon monoxide poisoning. If you have pets, you can get them seen by the vet for advice and treatment.

You should ensure that you do not return to your home until you have been advised by the appropriate authorities that it is safe to do so. Your home will need to be thoroughly checked and any problems rectified before you can safely return, and going back before this has been done will simply out you and your family in danger of serious damage or death.

Once you have been advised that you can return to your home, you should arrange for fully qualified and certified service engineers to come out and check all fuel-burning appliances as well as vents, furnaces, and chimneys. Once these have been deemed safe, you can then resume normal use of these appliances.

However, ensure that you continue to have them checked regularly to minimise the risk of this problem arising again in the future.


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