Carbon monoxide poisoning - First Aid

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First aid

First aid

Outdoor life pathologies

Tetanus Animal bites Freezing and freezing Mountain sickness Poisoning and accidental poisoning Carbon monoxide poisoning Accidental needle punctures and the like: what are the risks? What to do? What not to do? Red eye Car sickness and seasickness (motion sickness)
  • Tetanus
  • Animal bites
  • Freezing and freezing
  • Mountain sickness
  • Accidental poisoning and poisoning
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
    • What to do
  • Accidental needle sticks and the like: what are the risks? What to do? What not to do?
  • Red eye
  • Car sickness and seasickness (motion sickness)

Carbon monoxide poisoning

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless and non-irritating gas: for these reasons it is a dangerous and silent killer. In particular, the absence of a "gas smell" leads to erroneous tranquility in people and poor assessment of a possible source of exposure.

Carbon monoxide is normally present in the atmosphere as a product of the combustion of organic material. It is a component of smoke (from fires, from cigarettes), of the exhaust gas of cars (intoxication possible in the vehicle interior if the smoke re-enters, or in tunnels and closed rooms that are poorly ventilated with the engines of the cars running). Carbon monoxide is produced during the combustion of wood, coal, kerosene (for example, heating by stoves, braziers). In methane (used as a fuel for domestic use), propane and butane (liquid gas cylinders), carbon monoxide is not present, but intoxication can occur when there is incomplete combustion of these products in the absence of sufficient ventilation (for e.g. water heaters or heating systems malfunctioning or with defective smoke return). Carbon monoxide is rapidly absorbed through the lungs and spreads into the blood, where it binds very easily to hemoglobin (more easily than oxygen): as a result there will be a reduction in the transport of oxygen in the blood and, therefore, in the various organs and tissues, with consequent cellular malfunction, mainly in the heart, brain and kidney. The first signs of intoxication are nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headache, fainting: all symptoms certainly not characteristic of this intoxication, which should therefore be suspected if there are reasons. If the exposure persists, a state of central nervous system depression, loss of consciousness and death will appear, except for the immediate removal of the victim from the polluted environment and suitable treatment.

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What to do

If you experience symptoms related to carbon monoxide poisoning you should:

  • go immediately to the open air, meanwhile trying to block the carbon monoxide source;
  • call 118 if the symptoms are severe, or go to the emergency room if they are mild:
  • report all the necessary information to the doctor, i.e. the symptoms and circumstances in which they have already occurred, if there are other people exposed, if there are gas appliances, stoves or fireplaces in the home, etc.

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