You can’t see it or smell it – carbon monoxide is a silent killer. As UK rates of carbon monoxide poisoning continue to rise, we take a look at how you can protect your family and prevent this serious, potentially fatal, condition.
When you burn any fuel, including use of boilers, gas fires, central heating, cookers, and open fires, carbon monoxide is released through a vent or chimney. If any of these devices aren’t working properly, or the vent or chimney is rusted, blocked or cracked, the carbon monoxide can be released into your home. In the winter months, when the heating is on and windows and doors are kept closed, carbon monoxide levels can rise at an alarming rate, and quickly affect people and animals inside the home. Fortunately, it is easy to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Here’s how:
1. Install carbon monoxide alarms. It is no exaggeration to say that carbon monoxide alarms save lives. What’s more, one alarm isn’t always enough. As a rule, you need one alarm in each room that contains a fuel burning device, including a boiler, gas dryer, wood burning stove or gas fire. You should also have an alarm within two metres of each bedroom. This may seem like overkill, but it is essential that, should carbon monoxide be detected, that you hear the alarm, wherever you are in the house.
2. Be alert. There are some signs that you can look out for that could indicate your fuel burning appliances are not operating properly. These include a yellow or orange flame, when it should be blue, black stains or marks around the boiler or a burning smell. If you notice any of these, open windows and doors and contact a specialist.
3. Ensure your appliances are regularly serviced. Make sure that all your gas appliances and fires are serviced every year by a specialist. Your plumber MUST be gas safe in order to protect you and the people in your home; you can find a gas safe engineer near you here.
4. Know the signs. The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are often attributed to other causes:
- A tension headache
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach pain
- Shortness of breath
If one or more of your household experience any of these symptoms, particularly if they lessen when you are away from the home, check your CO alarms and seek advice from a qualified professional.
Preventing carbon monoxide poisoning is something you simply can’t afford not to do. Book an appointment with your local gas engineer now to make sure you are ready for winter.