Carbon monoxide poisoning
Never use outside heaters or BBQs inside to heat your home.
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Written by Sonder
Updated over a week ago

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a dangerous problem that can be difficult to detect. This issue is especially prevalent during the winter months when families are trying to stay warm and resort to unorthodox - and often dangerous - methods to warm up their homes.

Due to recent reports of families being admitted to the hospital due to carbon monoxide poisoning, and the higher risk of carbon monoxide poisoning during the colder months, we're going to take an in-depth look into the issue, what to keep an eye out for, and how to prevent it.

Just remember that if you need support or someone to talk to, our Sonder support team is available 24/7 to chat whenever you need it.

What is carbon monoxide and why is it dangerous?

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous clear gas that can cause serious illness and even death if exposed to high levels. What makes carbon monoxide dangerous is that you can't taste or smell it when it's inhaled, which makes it very difficult to know whether you've been exposed to it or not.

Common sources of carbon monoxide around a home include outdoor BBQs, charcoal briquettes and grills, outdoor heaters, gas lanterns, tools with small gasoline engines (such as pressure washers or concrete saws), and engine exhausts from cars and boats.

Anyone can be affected by carbon monoxide if exposed to it, with babies, pregnant women, elderly people, and people with chronic medical problems at higher risk of poisoning.

Signs and symptoms and carbon monoxide poisoning

Common symptoms of carbon monoxide include:

  • Headache

  • Nausea and stomach pain

  • Vomiting

  • Dizziness

  • Weakness

  • Fainting

  • Confusion

  • Tiredness

Extended exposure can cause:

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Seizures

  • Permanent brain injury

  • Death

Prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide will result in symptoms worsening. It's very important to seek medical assistance if you or someone you know has been exposed to carbon monoxide. For emergencies, dial triple zero (000) and seek medical help.

If you're not sure what to do, you can contact Sonder and the support team can immediately help you out.

How to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning

A good way to detect any potential carbon monoxide exposure is the use of carbon monoxide detectors, which can be purchased at hardware stores. Place one near each sleeping area, and if the alarm goes off then evacuate immediately and call emergency services โ€” dial 000 in Australia or 111 in New Zealand.

If you own carbon monoxide-producing equipment, here are a number of ways to prevent potential exposure to carbon monoxide:

  • Do not use outdoor BBQs, charcoal briquettes and/or grills, outdoor heaters or gas lanterns inside as these can produce carbon monoxide even if there is no smoke.

  • Keep coals from barbeques outside.

  • Do not use generators inside or in an enclosed space. If you are using one, make sure it is not near a window or door and is pointed away from the house.

  • Do not leave your car running in the garage, even when the garage door is open.

  • Only use fuel-powered appliances (such as pressure washers or concrete saws) outside, or in well-ventilated spaces.

  • Only use approved indoor heaters inside and have them serviced every two years by a registered gas fitter. If you use this type of heater, consider installing an audible carbon monoxide detector alarm for added safety.

  • Keep chimneys/vents, fireplaces, furnaces, wood-burning stoves, charcoal grills, and water heaters properly ventilated.

  • Be very careful when using solvents such as methylene chloride - which is commonly found in adhesives, paint and coating products, aerosols, and pharmaceuticals - as this can break down into carbon monoxide when inhaled.

Related reading:

If you have any questions or need extra support, we're here to help you anytime in any language. Simply start a chat with us via the home screen of the Sonder app.

Information sourced from: NSW Government #1, NSW Government #2

Image credit: Fire and Rescue NSW

All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

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