Carbon Monoxide – the silent killer

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an extremely poisonous gas that can be present in the fumes from the combustion of fuel’s which aren’t burnt under the correct conditions. Fuels such as gas, oil, solid mineral fuel and biomass all have the potential to emit CO. The gas cannot be seen, smelled or tasted making it difficult to detect.

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

The early symptoms of CO poisoning are usually similar to common ailments such as upset stomach, tiredness and flu.

The common symptoms can include:

  • Headaches
  • Breathlessness
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Dizziness or Collapse
  • Chest and/or stomach pains
  • Erratic behaviour and/or Visual problems

Actions to take in a CO emergency

If you suspect fumes are escaping from your combustion appliance into your home, or your carbon monoxide alarm goes off.

  • If your appliance is automatically fed with fuel, turn the appliance off.
  • Open doors and windows to ventilate the building.
  • Leave the building immediately and don’t return until your appliance or boiler has extinguished and the air in the room is clear.
  • If you feel unwell go to your Doctor, call NHS Direct on 111 (where available) or, if it is urgent phone 999 for an ambulance. Tell them you feel your symptoms may be related to carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Before you reuse the appliance, have it serviced by a HETAS Registered Installer and the chimney swept by an approved chimney sweep.
  • Do not use the appliance until you are told it is safe to do so.

Protect yourself from CO

  • Have your appliance serviced and cleaned regularly by a HETAS Registered Installer.
  • Ensure your chimney is kept clear by having it swept at frequent intervals by a HETAS Approved Chimney Sweep.
  • Make sure the installation complies with Building Regulations guidance. The guidance is there to protect you.
  • Fit an audible CO alarm conforming to BS EN 50291:2002 and positioned in accordance with Building Regulations Approved Document J requirements.
  • CO alarms should be regularly tested and should not be regarded as a substitute for regular maintenance of the appliance and chimney.

 

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