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Carbon monoxide safety

Published Thursday, 17th May 2018

With the cold weather around the corner the City is reminding residents of the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

Carbon Monoxide Danger

Carbon monoxide is a toxic, colourless and odourless gas that can come out of many commonly used items. It can cause long-term health effects such as heart disease and brain damage and is often deadly. Learn about the hazards and some tips on how to help avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

Symptoms of CO exposure

  • Know the six signs of carbon monoxide poisoning – headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, nausea, collapse and loss of consciousness.
  • Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to those of the flu – often it can be misdiagnosed or untreated.

The main cause of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning is from combustion of fuels such as petrol, oil, gas and wood in areas with little or no ventilation.

Products that may emit carbon monoxide

Some common products that can emit carbon monoxide when you use them are:

  • barbeques that use wood, charcoal or gas
  • fireplaces that use wood, charcoal or gas
  • portable cookers that use gas or kerosene
  • portable and/or outdoor heaters that use gas or kerosene
  • flued gas heaters (under certain conditions)
  • electrical generators that are diesel- or petrol-powered
  • electrical equipment that is diesel- or petrol-powered (such as pumps, chainsaws, blowers and welders).

Safety tips

  • Never use the above listed products inside the house or in areas that are not well ventilated, such as enclosed patios, garages and sheds, greenhouses, tents and caravans.
  • If you have an indoor fuel heater, consider having it checked by a licensed professional at the start of winter to ensure it is not producing excess carbon monoxide.
  • If you have a fireplace, ensure that the chimney has no blockages before you start using it.
  • Similarly, if you have a wood heater ensure the exhaust vent pipe is free of blockages.
  • If you are camping and need to use portable cookers, heaters and barbeques in a covered area (for example, if it’s raining), make sure that the area is well ventilated.
  • In an emergency situation or power blackout where you need to use items such as electrical generators and portable heaters, ensure that the area they are being used in is well ventilated.

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