Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Stay Gas Safe This Year

Carbon Monoxide poisoning affects thousands of people a year in the UK and can be caused by badly fitted and poorly serviced gas appliances. To create a safe living environment, make sure to install carbon monoxide alarms in your home.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Nicknamed the silent killer, carbon monoxide isn't always easy to spot. Carbon Monoxide is a colourless, odourless, tasteless and poisonous gas that can kill quickly without warning. It is produced by the incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels (including gas and oil) and can be released by gas appliances that have been incorrectly fitted, badly repaired or poorly maintained. If you have a faulty boiler or gas stove, you are at serious risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Research from the Carbon Monoxide Be Alarmed! campaign has found that almost 27 million people in the UK do not have a carbon monoxide alarm in their home. When it comes to safety, people are twice as more likely to fit smoke alarms in their home than they are to fit carbon monoxide alarms.

These figures are particularly alarming because approximately 40 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning, and another 4,000 are treated in hospital for it.

How to detect a gas leak

A gas leak can cause carbon monoxide poisoning, fires and gas explosions. It may also occur if flues, chimneys or vents are blocked. Key signs of a gas leak or carbon monoxide poisoning include:

  • Your boiler's pilot light keeps blowing out.
  • The gas rings on your cooker are orange/yellow, rather than blue.
  • There is soot or scorching around the outside of your appliances.
  • There is more condensation than usual on your windows

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

According to the NHS, CO symptoms may include:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Feeling week
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest and muscle pain

If you are suffering from CO poisoning, you will experience these symptoms when you are at home and they will disappear when you leave the premises. If others in your household (including pets) are experiencing similar symptoms, make sure to follow the following steps.

What to do in the event of a gas leak

  • Get fresh air immediately. Open doors and windows, turn off gas appliances and leave the house.
  • If you can, shut off the gas supply at the meter control valve.
  • Avoid using any electrical devices (including mobile phones), cigarettes, matches or burning candles as they could ignite the leaked gas.
  • Seek medical advice immediately.
  • If you think there is an immediate danger to your house or those around you, call the National Gas Helpline on 0800 111 999.
  • As a Gas Safe registered engineer to inspect your gas appliances and flues to see if there is a dangerous problem.

How to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning

Faulty gas appliances in the home can lead to CO poisoning. Get your gas appliances checked regularly to avoid this.

You also need to install an audible CO alarm to alert you to the presence of the poisonous gas in your home. By installing a carbon monoxide alarm, you eliminate any risk of CO poisoning. They cost as little as £15 and immediately alert you to any imminent danger. For effective warning, multiple alarms should be placed around the house in the same way a fire alarm is i.e. in the kitchen, dining room and bedrooms.

Typically, audible CO alarms have a battery life of up to 5 years. Don't forget to test your CO alarm regularly to ensure it's working!