Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odourless, colourless, and tasteless gas created by gas appliances that you can find in most homes including boilers, cookers, and fires. It can cause death or serious health problems like brain damage.
Carbon monoxide is created by the incomplete combustion of natural gas and liquid petroleum gas (LPG). It can also be created in the burning of oil and solid fuel like wood, coal, and petrol which can happen when appliances are fitted or repaired incorrectly or have blocked flues or chimneys.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Because carbon monoxide is virtually untraceable to humans, you will probably never know if you are breathing it in. Carbon monoxide poisoning causes around 60 deaths per year and around 1,100 recorded admissions to the hospital according to the Gas Safe Register. You only need to breathe in small amounts of carbon monoxide for it to be dangerous or potentially lethal.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors
It is highly recommended to have at least one in your home.
Your carbon monoxide detector should be tested regularly by pressing the button, and should also be tested when you have a gas safety check carried out.
Carbon monoxide detector alarms are very much like smoke alarms. They beep continuously when they detect carbon monoxide and beep intermittently when the batteries need to be replaced. You can also press the button to test if it is working correctly.
Carbon monoxide detector alarms are best placed on the ceiling. They are generally fitted simply with two screws. The best place to fit a carbon monoxide detector alarm is on the ceiling, just outside of the room or cupboard that the gas appliance is fitted in.
If there are more than one gas appliances in the property, then finding the best spot is even more important. Sometimes fitting more than one carbon monoxide detector alarm is needed.
Carbon Monoxide Symptoms
Carbon monoxide symptoms to look out for include –
- Loss of consciousness
If you experience carbon monoxide symptoms or hear your carbon monoxide detector alarm beep you should –
- Leave your home and open windows/doors and turn off gas appliances if possible.
- Seek medical attention immediately and tell your doctor about possible carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Call your local Gas Safe registered gas engineer/heating engineer immediately to check your gas appliances and make them safe.
It is highly recommended not using the ‘black spot’ carbon monoxide detectors as these do not give you an audible alarm to when there is carbon monoxide detected.
Who is Carbon Monoxide Likely to Harm
Carbon monoxide is potentially dangerous to everyone. It is more likely to affect babies, young children, and pregnant women. It is also more potentially dangerous to people with chronic heart disease and respiratory problems.
If you feel that there is a potential for carbon monoxide to spill into your home or you want to know how to get a carbon monoxide detector, then switch off all gas appliances immediately and call a Gas Safe registered engineer.