Danger from your own gas heaters, oil heaters and stoves
This year, 72 people have already suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning, and five people have died from it. An elderly couple from the Upper Palatinate died recently and completely unexpectedly due to the colorless, odorless and tasteless gas in their own four walls. Even if such incidents happen again and again, most people are not aware of this danger. An expert from the fire department explains about the "silent killer".
Hartmut Ziebs is President of the German Fire Brigade Association (DFV). He and his colleagues are often faced with carbon monoxide poisoning. In the newly founded "Initiative for the Prevention of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning", experts like Ziebs want to explain this rather unknown but not uncommon danger.
Unknown danger in your own four walls
"Carbon monoxide is hardly known as a health risk," reports Ziebs in a press release on the new initiative. Most people would not even know where the gas comes from or how it is created. The triggers are often much closer than you think. According to Ziebs, technical defects or blocked exhaust pipes from gas heaters, oil heaters or stoves are often the cause of life-threatening CO poisoning. For this reason alone, regular heating maintenance is essential.
There is no one hundred percent security
"But even if all precautionary measures have been taken: there is no one hundred percent certainty," emphasizes the expert. In an emergency, the respiratory toxin can only be reliably detected with a CO detector that permanently monitors the CO concentration in the room air. Ziebs recommends such detectors in living rooms and bedrooms, as well as in rooms in which fuel-operated devices such as a gas boiler are installed.
In the event of an alarm, first leave the house
"If a CO detector triggers an alarm or there is suspicion of carbon monoxide poisoning, you should react quickly and leave the house immediately," said the fire brigade expert. Only then should the fire brigade be called for help via 112.
Where are the dangers of poisoning lurking?
As Ziebs knows, most CO poisonings take place in the cold season. The most common sources of poisoning are insufficiently maintained or defective gas heaters, heating systems or an exhaust gas backflow in a blocked exhaust pipe or chimney. In addition, improper use of patio heaters or grills in closed rooms is a source of danger. Ironically, according to Ziebs, modern houses are particularly at risk. Because in well-insulated living rooms with airtight windows, the carbon monoxide concentration can build up faster. Added to this is the trend towards stoves and ethanol burners, which pose an additional danger.
How to protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning
According to the initiative to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, the following measures help protect against respiratory poison:
- Have heaters, gas heaters and instantaneous water heaters serviced regularly.
- Chimney sweeps should carry out regular checks.
- Never use charcoal grills or patio heaters in your apartment or garage.
- Use ventilation hoods instead of exhaust hoods in the kitchen.
- Do not operate the gas boiler and exhaust hood at the same time.
- Install tested carbon monoxide detectors in the house.