From time to time, there are news reports of victims of carbon monoxide poisoning. Inhaling cooking gas, whether piped or not, is dangerous and can kill, depending on the time of exposure and the amount of substance ingested. Below, learn how poisoning acts in the body, what the most common situations are, and what to do.
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Why inhaling cooking gas can be fatal?
Carbon monoxide (CO), present in gas cylinders and piped gas, has no smell, but is highly flammable and toxic. These characteristics make the substance a chemical asphyxiant, that is, in contact with the body, it binds to the hemoglobin molecules in the blood, which are responsible for transporting oxygen and other nutrients.
Thus, when there is a large amount of CO in the blood, the body cannot process enough oxygen and the person suffers intoxication, which can be mild or deadly. The picture will depend on the time of contact with the substance and the amount of CO inhaled.
Symptoms of cooking gas poisoning
Mild intoxication can cause mild shortness of breath, headaches, drowsiness, nausea, and vomiting; however, severe exposure leads to mental confusion, severe shortness of breath, chest pain, convulsions, loss of consciousness, and ultimately coma and death if there is no help.
Common situations and how to avoid them
Although it is dangerous, poisoning from inhaling gas from cooking and other sources is more common than we think. After all, it can occur due to a leak, improper ventilation of automobiles, kerosene or gas heaters or electric showers.
Another situation is to stay inside a car with the engine running in a space with no ventilation. Unfortunately, many people commit suicide this way, because inhaling the gas does not usually cause a painful death. Being close to fires can also compromise the respiratory system, so it is recommended:
- Do regular plumbing system maintenance if you have a furnace, shower, or gas heating.
- Keep the valve of the gas cylinder always closed after use.
- Get out of an environment containing a gas leak as quickly as possible.
- Install proper ventilation systems in homes and other living spaces.
- Place carbon monoxide detectors to signal possible leaks.
- Do not leave children and people who are unable to leave a fire or gas infestation site unattended.
First aid when inhaling gas from cooking and other sources
At first, mild cases of carbon monoxide exposure usually improve spontaneously by leaving the scene and getting fresh air. It may take a few minutes for the person to recover. Then, if there is an ambulance or first aid, the medical staff can offer an oxygen mask to speed up the release of the CO.
On the other hand, severe conditions, in which the victim is unconscious or having convulsions, require supplemental or hyperbaric oxygen, because the body needs to eliminate the substance immediately. According to the individual's condition, hospitalization may be necessary to assess whether carbon monoxide has harmed the lungs, heart, and other vital organs.
References: MSD Manuals; and Mayo Clinic.Find out if your weight is healthy Calculate quickly and easily Discover