First-Aid: Poisoning By Gas Or Smoke (Fumes)

Although industrial gases and vapours of various kinds are encountered by those working with them, the gases most of us come across are domestic gas, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.

It is possible to be killed by gas because if a person is trapped in an air-tight room, the gas displaces the oxygen (which he is also using up as he breathes) and the person suffocates. Also, if an appliance is not burning properly, poisonous carbon monoxide may be pro. weed.

The same happens with smoke but smoke has the additional disadvantage of actually damaging the lungs.

If you find someone in a gas or smoke-filled room :

1. Take a few deep breaths before entering.

2. Go in quickly, holding your breath and lift the victim to safety.

3. If you cannot remove him for any reason, throw open all the doors and windows, turn off the gas, leave and go back in as soon as the gas has dispersed. Do not do this if the place is on fire as it could draw the fire to the victim.

4. If the room is filled with smoke, a wet cloth or towel wrapped across your mouth and nose may help to keep a little of the smoke out of your lungs. Keep low and if you cannot lift or drag the person clear, get help.

5. Ask someone else to go for help.

6. Give artificial respiration if necessary.

7. If the person is overcome by exhaust fumes in a closed garage, open doors, switch off the engine and proceed as above.

Prevention note

1. Have all gas appliances serviced regularly (at least once a year)

2. Never meddle with appliances yourself.

3. Never block up ventilators — natural gas burns safely with plenty of air but produces poisonous carbon monoxide if it has too little air.

4. Never leave the car engine running in a closed garage — the poisonous carbon monoxide in the exhaust can overcome you quicker than you think.

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