Carbon monoxide poisoning: symptoms, treatment and prevention

Carbon Monoxide Alarm

Around 30 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning each year, with another 4000 treated in hospital – although the true numbers of those affected are likely to be much higher as the early symptoms can easily be mistaken for flu or tiredness. However, it is easy to protect your family from the harmful effects of carbon monoxide, as well as spot and treat the symptoms in their early stages


Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can often be missed, appearing similar to those of flu, pregnancy, a hangover or food poisoning. If symptoms disappear or get better when you leave home and come back when you return, this could be a key indication of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The six main symptoms are:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Breathlessness
  • Collapse
  • Loss of consciousness


A potentially silent killer, carbon monoxide can’t be seen, smelled or tasted – which is why it’s so important to put preventative measures in place to keep your family safe. Parents spend over £222 on safety equipment for their children, from car seats to stairgates to plug covers – yet 33% do not have a carbon monoxide alarm.

Following the ABC method is a simple way to ensure that your family stays protected from carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Do you have an Alarm fitted?
  • Have you tested it and are the Batteries working?
  • Have you had an up-to-date gas Check?


If your alarm goes off or you spot signs of carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Open doors or windows for ventilation
  • Call the Gas Emergency number on 0800 111 999 to report the incident, or the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Gas Safety Advice Line on 0800 300 363

Seek medical advice immediately if you feel unwell – go to your GP, call NHS 111 or, if it is urgent, call 999 for an ambulance

CO Be Alarmed! campaign

‘Carbon Monoxide – Be Alarmed!’ is the national campaign to reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by carbon monoxide. The campaign is run by Energy UK, the trade association for the energy industry, and works with a wide range of charities and other organisations to encourage people to install carbon monoxide alarms in their homes and raise awareness of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Watch the full video on how to stay #COsafe here.