Carbon Monoxide – the ‘silent killer’

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Carbon monoxide poisoning affects over a thousand people each year and can be fatal. In fact, around 50 people die every year from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by gas, oil and solid fuel appliances and flues that have not been properly installed, maintained or that are poorly ventilated[i].

What is carbon monoxide (CO)?

Carbon Monoxide is an odourless, colourless and tasteless gas produced by the incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels (including gas, oil, wood and coal). It occurs when these fuels burn in an enclosed space using up the oxygen levels to create poisonous Carbon Monoxide (CO).

What is CO poisoning?

CO can be fatal. When inhaled, it enters the blood’s haemoglobin in the red blood cells. This prevents oxygen reaching cells, tissues, the brain and organs which start to fail and die. CO in your bloodstream also causes damage to blood vessels which can cause swelling to the brain, nerve damage, loss of consciousness and death.

What are the symptoms of CO poisoning?

Mild exposure can lead to flu-like symptoms including: light-headedness, headaches, dizziness and nausea. Usually in these cases, when you remove the exposure, symptoms will resolve themselves without any long-term ill effects.

However, with long-term exposure or contact with larger amounts of CO, deterioration happens very quickly and can cause vomiting, abdominal pain, tiredness and confusion and severe neurological problems such as: seizures, loss of consciousness and even death.

CO poisoning is one of the main causes of anoxic and hypoxic brain injury. This is where the flow of oxygen to the brain is interrupted. If the brain is starved of oxygen for longer than four minutes, brain damage starts to occur. The results could lead to permanent damage affecting language, mood, behaviour and memory.

How do you prevent CO poisoning?

According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA), you can prevent CO poisoning by:

  • Having your gas appliances serviced annually by a gas engineer who is registered with Gas Safe Register
  • Using professionals to service any other fossil-fuel burning appliances such as oil or coal burning stoves annually
  • Fixing carbon monoxide detectors in your home; these can be purchased from most DIY-type stores and cost just £20 approximately
  • Ensuring that CO detectors are maintained and replaced according to packaging instructions

Is compensation available for CO poisoning?

If you suffer from CO poisoning due to the negligence of another person or company, you may be entitled to make a compensation claim for your injury.

How can Novum Law help?

Novum Law’s specialist team are experts in all legal matters and have lots of experience representing people in all types of CO poisoning claims. We can advise you on whether or not you have a valid claim for compensation. We can also talk you through the process of making a claim and answer any questions you may have.

If you believe you have been exposed to CO poisoning due to somebody else’s negligence, you can phone or email us for a free, initial chat.

Annual Gas Safety Week 17-23 September 2018

Later this year, the eight annual Gas Safety Week takes place with organisations from across the UK working together to raise awareness of the dangers of poorly maintained gas appliances, which can cause CO poisoning as well as dangerous gas leaks, fires and explosions.

Novum Law will be supporting the awareness week which provides an effective platform for the gas industry, consumer organisations and individuals to focus on communicating the importance of gas safety at home and in the workplace.

We’ll be posting lots of useful information, advice and tips about gas safety and the dangers of CO poisoning on Twitter and Facebook throughout Gas Safety Week on 17-23 September 2018. So look out for our posts!

If you’d like to learn more about Gas Safety Week click here.

  • If you would like to speak to a solicitor about a possible carbon monoxide claim, please contact Anna Cole.



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