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Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: The Silent Killer

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poisoning-by-carbon-monoxide Bob Scott/Photodisc/Thinkstock

In March 2012, 45-year-old Chris Bainbridge was found dead in his wooden cabin on a campsite, his wife unconscious next to him. The couple had wanted to keep warm and so had brought their barbecue into the cabin and closed the door, shutting off ventilation.

The cause of Mr. Bainbridge’s death was thought to be carbon monoxide poisoning. His death follows that of Hazel Woodhams, 30, and Tracey Screen, 34, who were both killed by barbecue fumes while camping in 2011.

Tragically, this month sees the death of another person, likely due to carbon monoxide, at a campsite. Little six-year-old Isabelle Harris became unwell, started having a seizure and then stopped breathing, while on holiday with her parents in the New Forest, Hampshire, UK.

They attempted to do CPR on the little girl but were unable to help her. Although initially arrested on suspicion of murder, autopsy results later showed a natural cause of death and officials now think Isabelle was poisoned by gas from a barbecue.

Carbon monoxide poisoning takes the lives of around 400 U.S. people a year and a further 50 people a year in the U.K., and results in many more hospitalizations.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odourless gas and occurs with incomplete combustion of natural gas and petroleum gas. Sources of carbon monoxide include:

• Faulty central heating systems

• Gas fires/ gas cookers

• Car exhaust fumes / motorbikes

• Gas fired power generators

• Lawn mowers

• Barbecues

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Symptoms of carbon monoxide include:

• Headache

• Nausea

• Abdominal pain

• Dizziness

• Sore throat and/or cough

• Children may also vomit and have symptoms resembling and upset stomach

• Severe poisoning can result in heart irregularities, confusion, drowsiness, hyperventilation, unconsciousness, seizures and difficulty breathing. Without treatment, death can occur.

This is because when CO accumulates in the blood, the body may take that up instead of oxygen, leading the major organs to be deprived of oxygen and resulting in brain death.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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