The silent killer makes new victims. On the morning of Friday 19 May 2023, two fifty-year-old German tourists were found dead in a house in Dolceacqua, in the province of Imperia in Liguria, where they used to spend some time relaxing. To kill them an escape of monoxide.
Carbon monoxide poisoning
According to the first reconstructions, the intoxication would have started from a malfunction of the boiler. The alarm was raised by the neighbors, who hadn’t seen the couple for a while, Eve And Jorg Vetzel.
The medical personnel and the carabinieri intervened on the spot. Investigations are underway to reconstruct the dynamics of the incident and the coroner was immediately alerted. There was nothing more they could do for the two spouses.
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Unfortunately there were many precedents, which led to many victims, all over Italy. On the other hand, distinguishing the presence of monoxide is rather complicated.
Carbon monoxide: silent killer
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-irritating gas; the absence of organoleptic characteristics therefore make it a dangerous and silent killer.
Also, early symptoms are often ignored since exposure to carbon monoxide it does not initially show obvious signs: a slight headache, a little shortness of breath, feeling dizzy, a state of mental confusion, general vision disturbances, nausea, vomiting. All disturbances which, taken as a whole, are also associable and attributable to different and common causes, with the result that one does not pay too much attention to them.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can occur for accidental causes (water heaters, stoves, defective heating systems, rooms with insufficiently ventilated fireplaces and wood-burning stoves) which occur above all in the winter months because they are linked to the greater use of these systems. They can add up to this external causes such as humidity, temperature and particular climatic conditions that can exacerbate the effects.
Even when the level of intoxication is fortunately below the lethal threshold, carbon monoxide produces harmful effects that are rarely recognized and attributed to it: memory loss, urinary and faecal incontinence and symptoms that usually occur in neurological degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, as well as other serious neurological effects.
What to do
There are three essential operations to be carried out to reduce the risks as much as possible:
- The accurate verification of the installation and functioning of the heating systems
- Compliance with safety standards
- Regular inspection of the ventilation system and chimney draft
A good idea may be to install some carbon monoxide detectorsgenerally low-cost tools that signal when the concentration of CO exceeds the warning levels.
How to help a person poisoned by carbon monoxide
If we are faced with a person who is a victim of carbon monoxide poisoning, what should we do? As always, the timeliness of the intervention is essential. Here are the behaviors to keep
- Immediately ventilate the room and remove the person immediately, taking care not to jeopardize their own safety
- Give her high concentration oxygen immediately
- Call 118
The hyperbaric chamber is the primary and often curative treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning.