What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide or CO is an odourless, tasteless and colourless gas that is highly toxic. Carbon monoxide is deadly to humans and animals if exposed to high concentration in fact, it is estimated that between 30 and 50 deaths each year are caused from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.

Poisoning occurs when the carbon monoxide in the air combines with haemoglobin in blood to produce carboxyhemoglobin; this inhibits the delivery of oxygen to vital organs and cells resulting in serious health issues, permanent brain damage and even death. This is why it is important to know the facts and take all the necessary precautions to protect yourself and your family against the potential dangers of Carbon monoxide poisoning.

Always use a Gas Safe registered installer

It is very important to make sure that all central heating systems, gas appliances, boilers, ovens, hobs, fires and appliances are properly fitted, checked and maintained by an experienced Gas Safe engineer. They will also ensure that chimneys and flues are free of blockages, safe and working correctly. It is also recommended that you have a high quality, audible carbon monoxide alarm fitted and that you check it regularly, this will help to ensure that you and your family are kept safe.

Video: The dangers of carbon monoxide – Gas Safe

What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

The main symptoms of carbon monoxide can be unspecific, below are some of the most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning:

Headaches, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, collapse and loss of consciousness

Other symptoms include (but are not limited to), tiredness, disorientation, sickness, confusion, weakness, vomiting and seizures. Many people describe the symptoms of Carbon monoxide poisoning as being similar to food poisoning, a viral infection or flu.

If you experience any of these symptoms and suspect possible carbon monoxide poisoning it is recommended by Gas Safe that you do the following:

  • Get to fresh air straight away. Open all of your doors and windows for ventilation.
  • Switch off all gas appliances and shut off the gas supply at the meter control valve.
  • Leave the property and go to your doctor or nearest hospital immediately. Let them know that you suspect you may have carbon monoxide poisoning.

Signs of a carbon monoxide leak

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can appear a few days or even months after being exposed. Since carbon monoxide is an odourless and colourless gas, it is important to look for common signs of a leak. Knowing what to look for will also reduce the risk of a slow leak of carbon monoxide.

Having carbon monoxide alarms fitted in your home, will help protect you and your family from any leaks. It is recommended to use an alarm that is loud enough to wake you up at night if a leak occurs while you are sleeping.

Regularly check that the flame on your gas hob or cooker is always crisp and blue. A flame that burns with a lazy orange or yellow flame is a sure sign that it’s time to have your cooker checked by a Gas Safe professional.

Check for pilot lights that often blow out.

Check for any dark staining on or around your appliances.

Check for an increase in condensation inside your windows.

Having faulty, unmaintained and unchecked appliances in your home increases your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. You must always get all gas appliances checked regularly to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. We recommend that you have your boiler serviced and heating system checked annually.

Never run a car, motorbike, van or lawnmower in a closed garage.

Carbon Monoxide News Stories

Sky News – The Danger Of Carbon Monoxide

Useful Resources

National Gas Emergency number: 0800 111 999