Carbon Monoxide - The Silent Killer

 

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Basically, a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas that is toxic to both humans and animals. Every year, 25 people in the UK die from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.

The gas is released when things like charcoal, petrol, diesel, propene, oil and wood don’t burn fully. Lots of things around the house use these fuels – like boilers, gas fires, central heating systems, cookers and open fires. Getting these serviced regularly by a qualified engineer will help you make sure they’re working properly and have proper ventilation – Carbon Monoxide poisoning can happen when an area isn’t ventilated, or an appliance isn’t fitted properly.

Signs of Carbon Monoxide in the house

  • A lazy yellow flame on a gas hob instead of a crisp blue flame
  • Sooty or yellowish-brown staining around appliances
  • Heavy condensation on windows where the appliance is installed

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning

The symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning can be similar to early flu or food poisoning symptoms, including:

  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pains
  • Erratic behaviour

These symptoms may gradually get worse with exposure to Carbon Monoxide, and may develop slowly if there is just a small leak. If you have any of the symptoms listed above it’s worth getting your home checked out, particularly if your symptoms disappear once you’ve left the house.

What should I do if I think there's Carbon Monoxide in my home?

  • Open all windows and doors, turn off the gas and appliances and evacuate the building immediately
  • Call your landlord or letting agent who will send someone immediately to check the area. Call the gas emergency number on 0800 111 999 to report the incident
  • Do not re-enter the building until you’re told that it’s safe to do so by a qualified person
  • If you think you’ve got Carbon Monoxide poisoning, see your doctor or go to A&E – it can cause permanent health issues in some cases

How to prevent Carbon Monoxide poisoning?

Get your appliances checked regularly by a qualified professional. If you’re in rented accommodation it’s down to your landlord to make sure gas appliances are inspected every 12 months. However, any appliances you bring into the property when you move in are your responsibility.

Install a Carbon Monoxide alarm if there isn’t one already in the property – it's not a legal requirement for landlords in England and Wales to install alarms, but they can be vital in preventing Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

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