Home HSE Articles Can Opening A Window Stop Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

Can Opening A Window Stop Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?


When we talk about Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, we encounter questions like; “Can Opening a Window Stop Carbon Monoxide Poisoning“?

Can Opening a Window Stop Carbon Monoxide Poisoning“?

Inasmuch as there is need for good ventilation in our homes, opening a window will not completely get rid of carbon monoxide (Cannot stop carbon monoxide poisoning). The goal is to provide proper ventilation in our homes and reduce the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Let us discuss more about Carbon Monoxide Poisoning;

What is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning is said to occur after carbon monoxide is breathed in, it enters your bloodstream and mixes with haemoglobin (the part of red blood cells that carry oxygen around your body) to form carboxy-haemoglobin. When this happens, the blood is no longer able to carry oxygen, and this lack of oxygen causes the body’s cells and tissue to fail and die.

Every year, at least 430 people die in the U.S. from accidental CO poisoning. Approximately 50,000 people in the U.S. visit the emergency department each year due to accidental CO poisoning. There are steps you can take to help protect yourself and your household from CO poisoning.

CO is found in fumes produced by furnaces, kerosene heaters, vehicles “warmed up” in garages, stoves, lanterns, and gas ranges, portable generators, or by burning charcoal and wood. CO from these sources can build up in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces. People and animals in these spaces can be poisoned and can die from breathing CO.

Sources of Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is in fumes (smoke) from:

  • Car and truck engines.
  • Small gasoline engines.
  • Fuel-burning space heaters (not electric).
  • Gas stoves.
  • Lanterns.
  • Heating systems, including home furnaces.
  • Burning charcoal, kerosene, propane or wood.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

How to Recognize CO Poisoning

The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. People who are sleeping or who have been drinking alcohol can die from CO poisoning before ever having symptoms.

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are not always obvious, particularly during low-level exposure.A tension-type headache is the most common symptom of mild carbon monoxide poisoning.


READ ALSO: Home Safety; Importance, Hazards & Home Safety Tips


Other symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Feeling and being sick
  • Tiredness and confusion
  • Stomach pain
  • Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing

The symptoms of exposure to low levels of carbon monoxide can be similar to those of food poisoning and flu.

But unlike flu, carbon monoxide poisoning does not cause a high temperature.

The symptoms can gradually get worse with prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide, leading to a delay in diagnosis.

Your symptoms may be less severe when you’re away from the source of the carbon monoxide.

If this is the case, you should investigate the possibility of a carbon monoxide leak and ask a suitably qualified professional to check any appliances you think may be faulty and leaking gas.

The longer you inhale the gas, the worse your symptoms will be. You may lose balance, vision and memory and, eventually, you may lose consciousness.

This can happen within 2 hours if there’s a lot of carbon monoxide in the air.

Long-term exposure to low levels of carbon monoxide can also lead to neurological symptoms, such as:

  • Difficulty thinking or concentrating
  • Frequent emotional changes – for example, becoming easily irritated, depressed, or making impulsive or irrational decisions

Breathing in high levels of carbon monoxide gas can cause more severe symptoms.

These may include:

  • Impaired mental state and personality changes (intoxication)
  • The feeling that you or the environment around you is spinning (vertigo)
  • Loss of physical co-ordination caused by underlying damage to the brain and nervous system (ataxia)
  • Breathlessness and a heart rate of more than 100 beats per minute (tachycardia)
  • Chest pain caused by angina or a heart attack
  • An uncontrollable burst of electrical activity in the brain that causes muscle spasms (seizures)
  • Loss of consciousness – in cases where there are very high levels of carbon monoxide, death may occur within minutes

Prevention of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Here are some prevention tips to prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning;

  • Check or change the batteries in your CO detector every six months. If you don’t have a battery-powered or battery back-up CO detector, buy one soon.
  • Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • Keep vents and flues free of debris. Debris can block ventilation lines.
  • Never leave the motor running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.
  • Never run a motor vehicle, generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine less than 20 feet from an open window, door, or vent where exhaust can vent into an enclosed area.
  • Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside a home, tent, or camper.
  • Never run a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine inside a basement, garage, or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open.

Other safety tips at home and in the workplace

Follow the safety tips below to help protect yourself at home and in the workplace:

  • Never use ovens or gas ranges to heat your home.
  • Never use oversized pots on your gas stove or place foil around the burners.
  • Make sure rooms are well ventilated and do not block air vents. If your home is double glazed or draught proofed, make sure there’s still enough air circulating for any heaters that are in the room.
  • Do not use gas-powered equipment and tools inside your home if you can avoid it. Only use them in a well-ventilated area, and put the engine unit and exhaust outside.
  • Always wear a safety mask when using chemicals that contain methylene chloride.
  • Do not burn charcoal in an enclosed space, such as on an indoor barbecue.
  • Do not sleep in a room that has an unflued gas fire or paraffin heater.
  • Fit an extractor fan in your kitchen (if it does not already have one).


What Condition is often Confused with the Early Stages of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

Early symptoms of CO poisoning include irritated eyes, headache, nausea, weakness, and dizziness. They often are confused with Seasickness or Intoxication.


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Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Diagnosis & Treatment

Your healthcare provider can do a blood test soon after CO exposure to detect carbon monoxide poisoning. The test doesn’t show how severe the poisoning was or if you’ll have long-term health problems.

Your provider will figure out the best treatment for you based on:

  • How long you were exposed to the CO.
  • How concentrated (thick) the gas was.
  • Your overall health.

To treat Carbon Monoxide Poisoning patient will be given an oxygen mask to breathe through to provide pure oxygen. This will offset the carbon monoxide buildup.


This article has covered the question – “Can Opening a Window Stop Carbon Monoxide Poisoning“?

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See Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Fact Sheet in Selected Languages – Here



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