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How can I avoid carbon monoxide poisoning at home?

Posted by Jason Ramsdale on 20 November 2015 at 12:15 pm

We're in Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week (16 - 22 Nov 2015. Left undetected, carbon monoxide poisoning can be fatal or cause permanent damage to your health.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gas with no smell or taste. It is produced through the incomplete burning of carbon fuels...

Potential sources of CO poisoning:

  • Boilers (Either fossil fuels or biomass!)
  • Gas fires
  • Water heaters
  • Cookers
  • Open fires
  • Anything that burns gas, oil, coal or wood!

Signs of Danger:

  • If you are having symptoms of headaches, sickness or nausea, tiredness or confusion.
  • Yellow or orange flames where there are usually blue flames.
  • Sooty stains on walls and ceilings around fires and water heaters.

What you can do to protect yourself:

  1. Do not cover or block ventilation.
  2. Keep chimneys and flues clear where in use.
  3. Don’t run your car in enclosed spaces like your garage.
  4. Do not use your appliances for things other than what they were intended (eg. Do not try to heat your home with a gas cooker).
  5. Only buy appliances that comply with current British Standard and have them installed by a registered installer.
  6. Make sure your appliances are serviced regularly by a qualified engineer.
  7. Buy a carbon monoxide detector. For as little as £10 it could save a life. Remember to check their batteries regularly too.

What to do if you suspect a CO leak:

  • If you feel unwell consult your doctor or phone the NHS on 111, if urgent phone 999 for an ambulance. Mention your symptoms could be related to CO poisoning.
  • Turn off the appliance.
  • Open windows and doors to ventilate your property.
  • Leave the property immediately until the appliances are off and your house has ventilated
  • Have the appliance checked by qualified engineer and do not use the appliance until you a told it is safe to do so.

Carbon monoxide awareness video:

Image: SmartSign

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1 comments - read them below or add one

Ian Byrne

Ian ByrneComment left on: 29 December 2015 at 3:37 pm

Private sector landlords should note that it's now a legal requirement to install a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance, such as a wood-burning stove (or an open fire).  This came into force on 1 October 2015 through the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015.  If you fail to comply with this, you can be fined up to £5,000. Similar regulations have applied in Scotland since May 2014, and Wales is expected to follow suit during 2016.

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