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Carbon monoxide: prevent poisoning

Status: 05/17/2018 12:12 p.m. | archive
Rapid relief is important in the case of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Around 5,000 people per year in Germany suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning. It ends fatally every tenth. The colorless, odorless and tasteless gas (abbreviation: CO) is also called "quiet killer" because it is imperceptible to humans.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is increasing - not only due to defective heating and grills in closed rooms. In shisha bars, too, there are often dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide, because the tobacco in the shishas is burned on coal. This can be life-threatening if there is not good ventilation.

Danger from ovens, grills and pellets

The gas is created when coal, gas or petrol do not burn completely because the oxygen supply is insufficient. The main triggers for CO poisoning are

  • defective stoves, gas boilers, radiant heaters, chimneys and chimneys
  • Gasoline engines in closed rooms
  • Grilling with charcoal or gas in closed rooms - even grilling with the windows and doors open is life-threatening
  • Storage of pellets for wood heating: During the production of the pressed chips, carbon monoxide is produced, which the pellets release into the air in the room. The Federal Office for Risk Assessment therefore recommends not keeping more than one large garbage bag of fresh pellets in one room. If you want to be on the safe side, install a CO alarm in the storage room.

Carbon monoxide poisoning causes a lack of oxygen

In the event of poisoning with carbon monoxide, the gas binds to the blood pigment hemoglobin in the body and thereby blocks the uptake of oxygen. This leads to a massive lack of oxygen in the blood, organs, brain and tissue.

Recognize symptoms

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include nausea, headache, racing heart, drowsiness, hallucinations, apathy, seizures, and shortness of breath. If the poisoning occurs during sleep, the affected person becomes unconscious, breathing stops and death occurs. Older people, heart patients and unborn babies are particularly sensitive to the gas.

That's how fast the gas works

If the CO concentration is high, there is only a short period of time between the first symptoms and loss of consciousness. Those affected often have no symptoms at first. Because the blood turns cherry red, they even have a healthy complexion. When trying to get up, however, all body functions suddenly fail and you can no longer leave the room.

Treat poisoning with oxygen

Detected in good time, CO poisoning can be treated with pure oxygen, which is supplied to the patient in the hospital via an oxygen mask. In the case of severe complaints, pregnancy or heart problems, the oxygen is administered in a hyperbaric chamber. But there are only a few pressure chambers in the north - one of the reasons why people keep dying of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Detector warns of high CO concentration

Anyone who heats with coal, gas or wood should ventilate intensively in order to avoid a high concentration of carbon monoxide. Regular maintenance of the heating is also important. If the concentration of carbon monoxide is higher, a CO detector (from 20 euros in the hardware store) sounds the alarm. Then you should leave the room immediately and go into the fresh air.

An overview of important emergency numbers

In the event of an emergency such as illness, injury or poisoning, it is important to reach the right emergency service quickly. Here you will find the most important telephone numbers. more

Experts on the subject

Malte Huber, flotilla doctor
Maritime Medical Institute of the Navy
Hydra 2000 pressure chamber system
Kopperpahler Allee 120
24119 Kronshagen (near Kiel)
www.marine.de

Priv.-Doz. Dr. Hans-Peter Hauber, Head of the Pneumology Section
Cardiology, pulmonology and internal intensive care medicine
Asklepios Clinic Altona
Paul-Ehrlich-Strasse 1
22763 Hamburg
(040) 18 18 81-12 21
www.asklepios.com

Dr. Malte Issleib, senior physician
Clinic and Polyclinic for Anaesthesiology
Center for Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine
University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf
New Clinic (O10)
Martinistrasse 52
20246 Hamburg
www.uke.de

Dr. Manfred-Peter Müller-Kortkamp, ​​specialist in ENT medicine, environmental medicine
Practice for hyperbaric oxygen therapy
Seilerstrasse 7-9
29614 Soltau
www.mueller-kortkamp.de

Lutz-Matthias Peters, chimney sweep
Kapitän-Schröder-Weg 13
22417 Hamburg
www.schornsteinfeger-peters.de

additional Information
Association of German Pressure Chamber Centers (VDD)
Cuno-Niggl-Strasse 3, 83278 Traunstein
(0800) 000 48 81
www.vdd-hbo.de

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