Emergency advice

Carbon monoxide poisoning:

  1. Call 999.
  2. Move the casualty into fresh air.
  3. Encourage the casualty to breathe normally.
  4. Monitor the casualty until help arrives.

What is carbon monoxide and carbon monoxide poisoning?

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that’s hard to detect as it has no taste or smell. If someone breathes in carbon monoxide in large quantities, for example from smoke or vehicle exhaust fumes, it can prove fatal.

Carbon monoxide gas may come from:

  • exhaust fumes of motor vehicles in a confined space
  • smoke from incomplete burning of coal, gas, logs and oil in a confined space
  • blocked chimney flues
  • disposable or portable barbeques in a confined space
  • emissions from defective gas or paraffin heaters.

Signs and symptoms

When exposed to low levels, people may have:

  • headache
  • confusion
  • aggression
  • nausea and vomiting.

When exposed to high levels, they may have:

  • cherry-red or grey-blue skin colouration
  • difficulty in breathing
  • reduced level of response leading to unresponsiveness.

What to do

  1. Call 999 or 112 for emergency help.

    • Tell the ambulance you suspect fume inhalation.
  2. Help to move the casualty from the source of the fumes into fresh air.

    • Do not enter the fume-filled area yourself.
  3. Support the casualty and encourage them to breathe normally.

    • If the casualty’s clothing is still burning, try to extinguish the flames and prepare to treat the burns.
  4. Stay with the casualty until help arrives.

    • Monitor and record the casualty’s vital signs – breathing, pulse and level of response.
  5. If the casualty is found unresponsive open the airway, check their breathing and prepare to treat for an unresponsive casualty.

Did you find this information helpful?

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