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Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide - the silent killer, is a gas that can be produced by gas boilers, gas fires, heaters and cookers, wood burning stoves and open fires if these appliances are faulty or if they have been wrongly installed or are poorly maintained .

It is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, toxic gas that can have fatal consequences.

How to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning

Wood burning stoves and open fires should be kept in clean working order and the rooms they are installed in should be well ventilated to reduce the risk. Gas boilers and appliances should be checked before the start of each winter by an appropriately registered engineer.

Carbon monoxide alarms can be bought from many supermarkets and DIY stores and provide an audible alert if they detect carbon monoxide. These should be tested regularly and replaced if not working.

If you live in rented accommodation, landlords have a legal duty to have any gas appliances they provide, checked annually and to provide you with a copy of the safety check record. It is strongly recommended that landlords use suitably trained, reputable engineers to install, service and inspect appliances.

Signs of a carbon monoxide leak

  • black sooty marks on the radiants of gas fires
  • sooty marks on the wall around stoves, boilers or fires
  • smoke accumulating in rooms due to faulty flues
  • yellow instead of blue flames from gas appliances

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

Carbon monoxide poisoning can be difficult to detect, because its symptoms are the same as those of many other common ailments. A headache is a common symptom of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Other common symptoms include -

  • dizziness and nausea (feeling sick)
  • vomiting (being sick)
  • tiredness and confusion
  • stomach pain
  • shortness of breath and difficulty breathing

If you suspect carbon monoxide

If you believe you may be suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, turn off all your cooking and room or water heating appliances that use fuel other than electricity.

Open doors and windows in your home and move outside the property immediately.

You should see a doctor at once and inform them that you suspect you may have carbon monoxide poisoning.

For any type of gas emergency call the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999.

For further information and advice visit the websites below -

Access the Carbon Monoxide and Gas Safety website (link opens in a new window)

Access the Health and Safety Executive website (link opens in a new window)

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