If volumes of smoke or gas are inhaled or breathed in, it can be
deadly. If a casualty has inhaled fumes they need immediate medical
attention as they are likely to have low levels of oxygen in their
blood and tissues.
Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas. When inhaled, the gas
directly prevents the red blood cells from carrying oxygen to the
body’s tissues and organs. It can quickly prove fatal if it is
inhaled in large amounts, for example from vehicle exhaust fumes or
smoke within a confined space, or even in small amounts, for
example due to leakage of fumes from a faulty boiler or heater.
Carbon monoxide is difficult to detect as it has no taste or
smell. Unfortunately, lots of people who have carbon monoxide
poisoning may not be aware that they are affected and may wrongly
blame their symptoms on other reasons. The young and the old are at
increased risk. It is best to reduce the risk of poisoning by
making sure that gas appliances are serviced regularly and by
fitting an approved carbon monoxide detector in your home.
If the casualty has had exposure to low levels of carbon
monoxide for prolonged periods of time, they may complain of:
Severe symptoms may include:
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