Carbon monoxide (CO) is the most widespread form of poisoning in the home. It is a highly poisonous gas that has no colour, taste or smell. Therefore it’s totally invisible to human senses.
The only way to detect CO is with a certified, audible carbon monoxide alarm. For peace of mind, preferably look for an alarm with a sealed-for-life battery and 7 year sensor life.
The most common causes of carbon monoxide poisoning are poorly fitted or maintained fossil fuel-burning heating appliances such as gas cookers, fires and boilers. Other examples of fossil fuels are paraffin, coal and wood. CO can also enter a property from adjoining premises.
Additionally cooking methods that use oversized pots will starve the gas flame of oxygen and result in potentially dangerous CO levels being emitted into the kitchen.
High levels of CO poisoning can be lethal over a short period of time. Worryingly, low-levels of the poison can also cause lasting damage to your health.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning
Early symptoms are similar to the ‘flu’.They can include nausea, dizziness, tiredness, headaches, stomach pains or chest pains. If you experience these symptoms but feel better when you are outside or away from the appliance, you could be suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. More severe symptoms are respiratory problems and brain damage leading potentially to death. The smaller the person, the more quickly the body can be overcome by the effects of CO.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can affect the victim’s mental ability before they are even aware there is a problem. Any effort that increases the body’s need for oxygen only makes the problem worse, rapidly leading to collapse and potentially fatal consequences.
Although you can’t see, smell or taste carbon monoxide there are a number of signs that indicate there may be a strong risk of CO being produced.
Simply look at your gas or heating appliances, danger signs include:
- sooting or staining around your appliance
- excessive condensation in the room where the appliance is installed
- If you are using a gas appliance, it should have a crisp blue flame, such as a pilot light. If it turns to a lazy orange flame, the appliance may not be working correctly.
You are more at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if:
- Your appliance was poorly installed
- Your appliance is not working properly
- Your appliance has not been safety checked and serviced annually
- You use oversized cooking pots that are too large for individual gas rings
- There is not enough fresh air in the room
- Your chimney or flue is blocked
- You do not allow access for our Gas Safe registered engineers to maintain your gas appliances
There are a number of ways to improve safety within your home:
- Have your appliances checked regularly
- Fit a certified audible alarm
- Don’t block ventilation
- Know the signs around your appliances
- Learn to recognise the symptoms
To make sure you’ve had your annual gas safety check, please call us today on 0800 028 2 028 or book it online.